Libraries build community partnerships. That’s something we do. Whether the partnership is to work with another community agency in order to harness that agency’s expertise, or to share resources of space, time, and so on it makes sense to work with other organizations in the community to support each other and extend what each can accomplish.
In the September/October issue of American Libraries magazine a partnership between an academic library and a public library was covered. The article Joint Libraries: Models that Work discussed sharing space as a way of partnering and collaborating. This type of partnership is not entirely new but it is regularly being re-imagined. For example consider the following library/community partnerships that support youth in some way:
- National Museum of Play: Located in New York, the museum has a partnership with a branch of the Rochester Public Library. Books may be checked out and returned at the museum or at any public library branch in the system.
- Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library-InfoZone: “The mission of the InfoZone is to create an outstanding public resource that fosters a profound love of reading, promotes family learning, and teaches all ages the use of hardware and software applications to help them become confident users of technology at work, at school and at home.”
- ImaginOn: ImaginOn is located in Charlotte, NC and is a youth library that is a branch of the public library system. It is a partnership with the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte which shares the building, some staff, and programming with the library.
- Lafayette Library and Learning Center: Located in California, a collaboration of eight partners including several school districts, a historical society, and more.
While the above partnerships might not be exactly what you are able to accomplish in your community, think about the partnerships that already exist, how you might expand those partnerships, and how you might breathe new life into them if needed. For example:
- If you are already at an organization where a unique partnership exists between agencies, maybe there are some areas where the relationship is feeling stagnant, particularly in services to teens. Try calling a meeting, or being more present in already existing meetings, to help develop new ways to work together and skills that will help you to meet your mission of serving youth.
- Maybe you’re in the throes of conversations about an impending partnership and maybe everyone isn’t in agreement over whether or not this connection is a good idea. Is there additional research you can bring to the table to help educate and inform everyone involved about the reasons why the partnership is a good idea? If so, speak up and let others know about the benefits to teens and the community of this type of working together.
- Get teens involved by asking them about the community organizations and agencies to which they have a connection. Connect with those groups that have a mission similar to the library, and start talking about what you might do together in order to support teens in the community.
Now, more than ever partnerships are critical to the library. As the skills needed to preform jobs change and resources are shifted, or become more scarce, finding new ways to connect with the community is an important step to making sure that your library can provide the best service possible to teens.