BCPL, BCPS “SAIL” into new partnership initiative
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 12:30

New program kicked off in November

by Nicole Rodman

    Baltimore County’s schools and libraries have always shared a similar mission — educating county residents.
    Now, Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) and the Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) have come together in a formal partnership known as SAIL (Students Achieve In Libraries).
    On Nov. 22, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, BCPS superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance and BCPL director Jim Fish gathered at Martin Boulevard Elementary School in Middle River to tout the new program.
    In an interview with The Eagle last week, Fish explained that, while BCPL and BCPS have always worked closely together, SAIL is about making that partnership “more formal, more aggressive, more energetic.”

“It’s all about trying to help the students,” he said.
    According to Fish, the program currently involves three main initiatives.
    The first initiative is to make sure every BCPS student is able to use the library.
    “We want to get in the hands of all students in the school system a valid library card by the end of the school year,” Fish explained.
    As part of SAIL, BCPL and BCPS will also seek to promote the use of teacher loan cards among county school instructors.
    Teacher loan cards are not a new program, but, as Fish noted, they are underutilized.
    Using a teacher loan card, teachers can take advantage of extended loan periods.
    In addition, teachers using a loan card incur no fines for overdue items.
    Currently, approximately 500 teachers have teacher loan cards with BCPL.
     The third initiative of the SAIL program involves the extension of the BCPS wireless network into each BCPL branch across the county.
     Students will be able to connect to the BCPS wireless network to access information and assignments.   
    Only BCPS students and library staff will be able to access the network.
    As Fish noted, while these three initiatives are ongoing, the partnership will continue to grow over time.   
    Eventually,  BCPL and BCPS hope to join forces when purchasing shared supplies in an effort to get better prices from vendors.   
    According to Fish, purchasing supplies jointly will provide a “better deal for students and taxpayers.”
    While the SAIL program is a more formalized partnership, BCPL and BCPS have worked together in many ways throughout the years.
    One of the important ways in which they have collaborated is through the annual BCPL Summer Reading Club.
    “The schools really got into embracing it and encouraging students to participate,” Fish said.
    As he noted, each year has brought more participants into the reading program. Last year, more than 55,000 young people participated in BCPL’s Summer Reading Club.
    “I give the school system a lot of credit,” Fish noted.
    As Fish explained, the idea for a more formalized partnership first came about after he received a call from Dr. Dance asking him to go to lunch.
    At that lunch, the two men discussed ways in which the partnership between BCPL and BCPS could be strengthened.
    This would prove to be the start of the program now known as SAIL.
    For Fish, the partnership is an important way for BCPL to fulfill its central mission.
    As he explained, “The public library, because we do focus on lifelong learning, we want to make sure the children are getting the kind of information they need.”
    The BCPS communications office did not respond to repeated requests for comment by press time.