Program Details

Title: Getting Schooled: Partnering with Arizona’s largest school district to issue public library cards


Jesse Simms, Mesa Public Library, Assistant Library Director

Polly Bonnett, Mesa Public Library, Library Director

Date/Time: Friday, October 20, 11:50 am - 12:50 pm

Room: 108

Program Description

In the Summer of 2022, the Mesa Public Library embarked on a quixotic journey to get a library card for every student in the largest school district in Arizona: Mesa Public Schools. I’ll spoil the ending and say we have not given cards to all 64,000 students yet - but the library has begun on that path with a pilot project that enables parents or guardians to check a box during school registration to sign up for a library card. In this presentation, Polly Bonnett and Jesse Simms from the Mesa Public Library will discuss how the project began, partnerships that were built, legal challenges conquered, and technical roadblocks overcome. The program will also discuss the larger goal of the project, future plans to expand the program, and (of course) everyone's favorite: results so far.

Learning outcomes:

  • How to build relationships to enable collaborations
  • Different strategies for student card signups
  • Navigate legal challenges around student card signups

Presenter Bios

Jesse Simms is the Assistant Library Director with the Mesa Public Library. He began his career with the Phoenix Public Library as a Page and a Library Assistant before moving on to the Buckeye Public Library System as a Library Technology Specialist and Digital Librarian. In 2019, he received the AzLA Emerging Leader Award. 

Polly Bonnett: Hello! I have the privilege of serving Mesa Public Library and the City of Mesa as the Library Director. I have had numerous roles in the organization, and in public libraries, for the past 23 years including as a Library Associate, Librarian, Branch Coordinator and Deputy Director of Library Services. I began my career in libraries at the downtown Mesa branch as a part-time library clerk. After finding that library work was a perfect fit for my passions and values, I chose this as a career and have been an enthusiastic advocate for the value a library serves in any community. Whether it’s lifelong learning or community building connections, it is a place of belonging and discovery. My current priorities are leading the library into a future with an attitude of creativity, innovation and optimism for even greater library access. I am so grateful to work with so many talented and caring people in the library world who make a difference every day. Currently I serve as the Vice Chair on the Maricopa County Library Council and was a participant in the 2018 Public Library Association Leadership Academy.

Arizona Library Association

Building Strong Libraries Together

7760 E State Route 69
Ste C5 #385
Prescott Valley, AZ 86314

(928) 288-2011

AzLA Mobile App (Android) AzLA Mobile App (iOS)
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software