Connect, Create, Collaborate: The Next Big Thing with Partnerships

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.

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.
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4 Comments

  1. This is in regards to the grade school in my neighborhood. Surprisingly, they have no technology budget to speak of, so they have no online databases. The great thing is, they partnered with our local public library to get access to all their online products. This school is particularly able to do this because other towns do not feed into the school. Strictly our town goes to our school and gets access to our library. It’s a great deal.

  2. Thank you for posting this! With the elimination of so many school media specialist positions, public libraries seem to be taking on a larger role and this is a great starting point for ideas. I love what the National Museum of Play did; I also think asking teens what other organizations they spend time with will be a great way for our local public library to seek out new relationships.

  3. This post is a wonderful reminder of how communities can rally around the same cause and work together! I love the collaboration of the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, especially the idea of collaboration with the historical society. I think that a lot of towns under-utilize the resources historical societies can provide, and creating a partnership with them could really benefit both institutions.

  4. It is vital to remember the symbiotic relationship the library, school, public, academic, etc., has with its community. So often libraries are seen as standing alone, available only to those with purpose, and that only those who seek the library with a purpose can be served by it. By connecting with other government and private organizations, the library can breath new life into the community and into itself! In this day in age, it is so important to keep up with current trends and become a cohesive part of the community, both real and digital. What ways, I wonder, could a library become a place where teens want to be through its community connections?

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