3 Strategies For a Successful Drive-By Book Pickup Program

3 Strategies For a Successful Drive-By Book Pickup Program

By Megan Habel , Aug 3rd 2020

An innovative way to get books in the hands of your students.

Looking to distribute books to students, employees, or community members in a safe way? With the right preparation, a drive-by book pickup can be a safe and effective way to get books in more hands. Below, we’ve outlined a few strategies to get you started.

Note: the steps below refer mainly to K-12 schools, but this idea can be adapted to any business or organization looking to safely distribute books. This post was written in consultation with Dom Fratantaro, the Library Media Specialist at University High School in Irvine, CA.


1. Get your team together.

Whether you’re handing out books to just 20 people or hundreds of students, you’ll need help to run a smooth event. In most cases, you’ll need to get permission, so run your final plan by the school administration. The number of staff and/or volunteers required will depend on the size of the group receiving books and the size of the area you have available.


2. Set up the area.

You’ll want to set up in the school parking lot or similar location where there is enough room for potential lines of cars to form. Consider having security and/or some of your volunteers available to direct and control traffic and ensure recipients stay in their cars. If you’re expecting a lot of cars, set up two or more lines. Think of your favorite fast-food chain—how do they handle the lunch or dinner rush? Just be careful that volunteers don't have to frequently walk in front of vehicles to retrieve books.

Once you have the area mapped out, you’ll need tables and chairs, pop-up tents (for shade), and a system for tracking students and what books they’ll need and have received. This can be done via computers or good old-fashioned pen and paper.


3. Promote safety and social distancing.

As with any public event, safety is of the utmost importance. It goes without saying, make sure all volunteers are provided with and are wearing masks and gloves. Be sure to have hand sanitizer and/or wipes on hand for extra sanitation. Before passing out books, it is a good idea to wipe them down along with the box they were shipped in. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, the virus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours. For more information and useful research and resources on the virus, please visit the ALA website. When passing out the books, have the parents and students stay in their cars, and either place the books in the trunk or hand them to students through the vehicle's window.


Additional Tips for a smooth distribution.

Depending on the school, there can be hundreds of students coming through, all with different book needs. Each situation will be different, but here are some ideas for fostering an easy distribution:

• Does each grade level or classroom have a specific set of books they use? Bundle them together ahead of time to save time day-of.

• Set up time blocks to lessen the congestion. Depending on how many cars you’re anticipating, scheduled pick-up times can be helpful to spread out the load. Consider 1-2 hour blocks based on grade level and/or a student's last name.

• Keep constant and open communication. Coordinating a book pickup, like anything with multiple moving parts, requires frequent communication. Emails, text messages, and posts through the school website and/or library portal are great ways to keep parents informed of the details. Consider including a diagram of the drive-through process or even a chart of the time slots.


The way schools operate in the coming school year may look a little different than what we’re used to, but one fact still remains: books are a necessary component to a student’s learning and growth. As always, BookPal's team is available to discuss projects, provide custom quotes, and answer questions.


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This post was written by Megan Habel, the Brand Strategist at BookPal. She is currently reading How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

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