For More Great Ideas

To help get those creative juices flowing:



Bringing the Arts into the Library

Carol Smallwood ed. ALA Editions

Successful Community Outreach: A How–To-Do-It Manual for Librarians

Barbara Blake ALA Neal-Schuman

Cultural Programming for Libraries: Linking Libraries, Communities, and Culture 

Deborah A. Robertson ALA Editions

A Place at the Table: Participating in Community Building 

Kathleen de la Peña McCook ALA Editions

Librarians as Community Partners: An Outreach Handbook 

Carol Smallwood ed. ALA Editions

Libraries Beyond Their Institutions: Partnerships That Work.

William Miller ed. Hayworth Information Press


OCLC Partnerships

Museum-Library Partnerships that Work (ALA recorded presentation)

15 Reasons Why Bookstore/Library Partnerships Are Beneficial by Naomi McEneely

Chicago Public Library’s Partnerships

Library Partnerships Ideas from the Real World – Web Junction

Community Partnerships: How to Get it Done (slideshare)


Public Library Partnerships which add value to the Community: The Hamilton Public Library Experience

Beth Hovius

WebJunction Illinois Guide to Partnerships

Out of the Box! A toolkit from Denmark (in English)

Think Global – Sister Cities

Colorado State Library

Library Journal

California Library Association Guide


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Homelessness Away From Home

I started this blog post intending to exclusively write about how libraries can partnership with government institutions to both help the homeless population as well as reduce the homeless population. Libraries have both a need and the means to help the homeless, and shelters are usually run by city and county governments, so I figured there must be some interesting collaboration between the two, right?

…and there is some interesting collaboration, for example:

The San Francisco Public Library works with the city’s Department of Public Health (and the San Francisco Full-Integrated Recovery Services Team) to offer a verity of services to its homeless patrons. They have a full time social-worker on staff (currently Leah Esguerra), paid for by the SF Department of Health. She works to make sure that the library has programs that are helpful to the homeless, and well as helping the homeless interact with the other library patrons better. Perhaps the most successful program they have is hiring formerly homeless people as “health and safety associates”. These associates help monitor the homeless patrons of the library, but also provide advice and peer counselling.

The Queens Library of New York and the Denver Public Library both work with their respective city’s Departments of Education to sponsor outreach programs to various homeless. The idea being that, no matter how good a library’s services are, they’re not helping people unless the people know about them. The QL sends their teen librarian to shelters and other “precarious housing” environments to talk to teens and parents about the services they offer, such as computer access, educational assistance, and vocational help. The DPL sends staff to talk to a local shelter for homeless and low-income women, again talk about library services but also to help them become acquainted with technology. At the end of the talk they distribute bus tokens so the women can more conveniently get to the library.

…but there seems to be even more collaboration between libraries and non-government groups to help the homeless, such as:

A fairly recent project (dedication ceremony was this September) is the Jean Rice Homeless Liberation Referance Library in the Bronx, New York. It’s a modest library organized by Picture the Homeless, staffed by volunteers and containing mostly donated books. Its goals are not to provide charity, but to give homeless people the tools to help themselves.

The H.O.M.E. Page Café operates out of the Free Library of Philidelpha. It looks like a fairly traditional library café, but it makes it a point to hire former homeless people, and to provide them a living wage and the help they need to transition back into more mainstream society.

Several libraries have had luck starting book clubs for the homeless, such as the Traverse Area District Library and the Cleveland Public Library. The TADL partnered with Safe Harbor (a faith based shelter organization) while the CPL partnered with the Care Alliance Health Center to contact the homeless. Both of these programs have since ended, but libraries at both libraries found the experience useful to get to know their respective homeless populations better.

For further information, the American Library Association has some excellent resources on the subject:

Stephen M. Lilienthal wrote a pretty good article for The Library Journal as well:

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Taxes & Death

When the federal government wants to reach out to a community, they have numerous options. They can make a public address via television (or radio, I guess), but the nation has a short attention span for this sort of thing; good for when the government has a vital need to get some information out there, but not too much information. They can put stuff online, but then people need to be interested enough in that information to access it, and not everyone has ready access to online; useful when there’s a lot of information, but the need for it isn’t urgent.

Most regions have some sort of federal building or offices where the government can put literature and informed personal, but most people don’t end up visiting federal buildings very often. If the feds want to make information available to people, they need to use a community center that people access on a regular basis. Ideally one with more of a friendly face, and already staffed with informed personal. In short, they need a library.

The most obvious example of this is tax forms and information. Traditionally, box after box of forms and instruction booklets being sent out to public libraries each January, to be put in bins and set on tables for the public to access. Libraries weren’t the only place to get these forms; a lot of people got them in the mail and there were other distribution centers (such as the post office), but libraries were still an important cog in the machine to get tax money into the hands of the IRS (and state and city governments, for that matter).

Now-a-days, all these forms can be gotten online, and some of them can only be found online. This actually makes libraries an even more vital part of the process; people on the wrong side of the digital divide still need access to these forms (and most post offices don’t provide internet access).

Death (or lack thereof)
Lately, the more newsworthy example of this sort of thing is information pertaining to the Affordable Care Act, affectionately (or not so affectionately) known as Obamacare. The ACA is over 900 pages long, so a lot of people haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. There’s a lot of information floating around out there, but there’s a lot of misinformation as well, and the offical channels are still suffering from some technical difficulties.

Luckily, the nation’s various libraries are there to fill in the gaps and provide information about the ACA. Furthermore, people are expected to sign up through the webportal, which the digitally disadvantaged are expected to access through organizations like public libraries.

The American Library Association put together a nice overview and list of resources:

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Music Partnerships

          As discussed and illustrated many times throughout our class, and observations; the library is a place for the community to come together to gather information. Traditionally it has been a place to pick up books, tax materials and the like, but as can be seen with many of the posts here, the library’s role has expanded a great deal. Music partnerships with libraries are very important to the music industry at all levels, the community, as well as the library patron.

          Music is a natural phenomenon that all people on Earth participate in on many different levels and within their own cultures. When a toddler hears music he/she reacts, maybe by bouncing up and down, a smile, or with sound to go along with what they hear. Music brings people together who are like-minded, as well as introduces people to music they may not have heard before and can gain a new appreciation for it. Libraries are the perfect place to introduce people to new music as well as to celebrate music from different cultures or genres because they are a community space and are seen as a safe and welcoming place to be. Music is experienced through performing or listening and because many people find the genres they enjoy most, often they don’t explore new things. Libraries can have open music nights. The King Count Library in Seattle Washington, for example, partnered with the Bluegrass Festival and was a venue for one of the performances. The Detroit Public Library in Detroit Michigan partners with a group called Java and Jazz where live jazz groups come in to perform and patrons can have free coffee during intermission.

            The library can be used as a performing venue, but what about the patrons who really enjoy music and enjoy listening? Patrons who enjoy books have the opportunity to hold book clubs in the library to talk about books and learn about new books, but patrons who really love music can have that too. The library can be a place for patrons to meet up and have listening parties. Patrons can listen, critique the music, as well as give suggestions for new music to check out. This offers music buffs the opportunity to listen as a community and ultimately network with others in their community.

            If we step outside of the library we can also see music groups such as orchestras, bands, etcetera promoting through the library. The Cincinnati Opera partners with the Cincinnati Library System to hold its archives as well as to put out exhibits. Local bands will often work to promote their new music through the library by having advertisements up on the information board, as well as handing out promotional CD’s or personally promoting their groups at the library. Many musicians from the surrounding area will post their information as music teachers for private lessons at the public library as well, where many patrons can see as they walk through the main entrance. Libraries also have the opportunity to work with local radio stations to promote patrons coming in and using new music software. For example, the Genesee District Library partnered with a local rock station, to promote Freegal Music Software. Patrons have the opportunity to have free guitar lessons through a local music store and patrons who take the lessons or download using Freegal have the opportunity to win a Fender Guitar signed by the musical group Evanescence . The rock station donated the guitar as well as monetary support for the program.

            All of these ideas are great and help the musical groups, but how can it positively and negatively affect the community library? In a positive light, promoting music groups, community musicians, and music enthusiasts, helps give the library publicity. It helps get patrons in the door to participate in the community information process, and helps give them the opportunity to experience and learn and expand what they know. Most of the time, the view of a library once a person gets older is that the library is for children, or it is boring. By offering these events, and opportunities, the library has the opportunity to prove its relevance to the community at large.

            While appealing to musical groups is good, it can also pose negative effects as well. For example, if a library begins to help promote musical groups and individual musicians it can become a giant advertisement building rather than a community group. Consequently, it can cause patrons to feel like they are being bombarded and pressured by advertising, which then ruins the feeling that the library is a safe place. It is a very positive thing to be able to have the library used as a performance space, however this can pose a problem for the library as well. All of a sudden the clientele can change. Instead of patrons interested in community learning etc, all of a sudden patrons begin to view the library as a performance venue, and the level of respect for patrons who are not at the library for a performance, can be in question.

            Library partnerships with the music industries, and individual musicians is really a great thing, however with any great partnership the ways in which partnerships work best is if both sides get to know how the other side works. It is incredibly important for the library to communicate its needs as well as expectations for the respect for its space. Without this understanding a partnership of any type would end up taking over and changing the dynamic of the library from community centered to a narrowly centered one genre view. Each side needs to do its homework so as to provide each other the opportunity to benefit and provide the patron with a full well rounded experience.


Genesee County Public Library. (2013). Events. Retrieved from

Petersen, Tom (2011) Festival Partnerships with Local Libraries: A Wintergrass Case

                   Study. International Music Bluegrass Association. Retrieved October 10, 2013, from


The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. (2013). About Us Library Partners.

                    Retrieved from

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Art Partnerships

Library community partnerships are important in many ways. One way that a library can establish a partnership with its community is through art. Art is essential to a community. Art enhances people’s lives and the library can be a source to do so. There are many ways that a library can bring art or awareness of art to the patrons, whether through craft workshops or having artwork to view. This special partnership can stimulate conversation about art. This post will investigate different cases locally and across the country. It will also examine how these types of partnerships benefit the community and patrons.

Art is an essential element to any society. The library is one venue that can expose its patrons to art. One great aspect to some of the art programs is that admission to museums and art institutions is provided free or at a discounted price. Through this, patrons of all economic backgrounds can visit various organizations. With library partnerships such as with the arts, libraries are able to provide even more information to patrons. It is one thing to see art or learn history in a book, but the library’s partnership can bring the art and history to life. The library is helping society become better educated by partnering with museums and art institutions where they immersed in culture.

In Minnesota the Hennepin County Library implemented many art programs geared towards all age groups. Christina Endres describes the program’s success by stating, “It’s clear that the Library’s arts programming is a major draw, both for area organizations and patrons.” The achievement of the program can be summed up by the following, “a program, called ArtsySmartsy, there was attendance of 163 patrons for 12 workshops” (Endres). Also interesting to include is that, “99% of patrons created art, 97% learned something new about art, 62% planned to check out related library materials, and 100% rated the quality of the program as good or better” (Endres). Some of the other programs that were offered in 2012 included the following:

  • Art Out of the Box: This program is for kids in grades K-6 in which they learn about a piece of art from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Afterwards the kids create their own piece as a response.
  • Crafty Minnesota-: A textile workshop for adults.
  • Make This: For teens where they explore topics such as anime, manga, comics, fashions, and bookmaking in a hands- on workshop.

Another program to examine is one in Chicago, the Kids Museums Passports. Fifteen cultural institutions are participating, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Institute of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, DuSable Museum of African American History, and Museum of Contemporary Art, just to name a few. Patrons can also go to gardens, zoos, and aquariums. The way Kids Museums Passports works is this: patrons use their library cards to check out a Museum Passport and the passport is loaned out for one week. Only one passport may be checked out at a time. Only two adults are allowed per pass and the group must include at least one child under the age of 18. Under these passes a family of four is allowed admission into the museums. There are fees associated with the pass if they are overdue. Overdue fines for late passes cost $2/day, with a $20 maximum fine. If the pass is lost it costs $60 plus any overdue fines. When finished with the passes they must be returned to the library where they were checked out.

Another program to look at is the Michigan Activity Pass, which rolled out May 24, 2013. This program looks similar to Museum Activity Pass (MAP) and could have possibly replaced it. The Library Network, along with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Library of Michigan Foundation, and CultureSource, are responsible for designing the program. Activity passes can be printed from the patron’s home or local library. The passes are either free or offered at a discounted price. Patrons can also receive discounts at participating gift shops at the various places. The passes expire within one week. Five passes will be available at Michigan libraries. A sample of the participating organizations include: PuppetART, Detroit Institute of Arts, Arts & Scraps, Scarab Club, and Cranbrook Art Museum. Organizations are located throughout the whole state, including the Upper Peninsula.

Lastly, local ties are important to examine with art and libraries. Such a partnership exists at the Novi and Warren Public Libraries. The Novi Public Library has some amazing art on display. There are actually 1,600 life tiles for viewing throughout the library. The tiles are made by local artist Connie Lunski and tell the story of the universe from its beginning to present day. Other pieces of art include hand-blown glass apples, a glass mosaic, a mural, and sculptures for the patrons to enjoy. The Warren Public Library had a partnership with the DIA. This year on August 19 the Miller Branch held a puppet show titled, Puppet Art with the DIA. A volunteer came to the library and gave some history on puppets and puppeteers.

All of these programs are vital to a community and its library. These art partnerships get patrons in their communities to engage discussions about art. Perhaps even these partnerships can bring art to patrons who might not otherwise seek it out.


Chicago Public Library. (n.d.). Kids Museums Passports. Retrieved from

Endres, Christina. (2012, July 23). Arts programming and partnership at Hennepin County Library. Retrieved from

Loutit District Library. (2013, April 25). Michigan Activity Pass to debut May 24 to Loutit District Library’s valid card users. Retrieved from

Novi Public Library. (n.d.). Art in the Library. Retrieved from

Warren Public Library. (2013, August 1). Puppet Art with the DIA. Retrieved from

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One Book, One Chicago


One Book, One Chicago started off as a one-week celebration through the Chicago Public Library system in October, 2001, in association with Chicago Book Week.  The book selected was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  The initial idea was a truly basic concept: to get an entire city to read a single book.  There were book clubs and meetings scheduled at several of the library branches, as well as community Starbucks.  Libraries carried little information packets, containing discussion questions, meeting times, and a short statement from the mayor, saying “Reading great literature provokes us to think about ourselves, our environment and our relationships. Talking about great literature with friends, family and neighbors often adds richness and depth to the experience of reading. The idea behind One Book, One Chicago is to have all Chicagoans read the same book at the same time to create a kind of citywide book club.” (ChiPubLib)  There were also quotes from the author, as well as Gregory Peck, known in part for his portrayal of Atticus Finch in the movie.

The following April, the mayor and CPL came together for another installment of One Book, One Chicago, this time during National Library week.  The book selected was Night by Elie Wiesel.  Again, the same discussion questions and book clubs met, but already the event had expanded.  One night, they brought in the author, to be interviewed about his experiences with the Holocaust and his book.  Also, the official Holocaust Days of Remembrance took place that year April 7-14, with National Library Week starting immediately after, and Chicago’s Holocaust Remembrance Day on the 30th.  Because all of these events so acutely matched the theme of Night, they expanded their program, holding meetings as early as April 1st, and holding the Remembrance Day Memorial at one of the branches of CPL.

Since that month, One Book, One Chicago has consistently been held twice a year, in April and October.  A book with a strong cultural and thematic background has been selected to be discussed by an entire city, ranging from children and young adult books (The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros) to a collection of short stories (The Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybek) to plays (A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry).  All of the books selected take place in Chicago, for the added benefit of the citizenry and the connection that it gives them.  In addition, the community of the event started to expand.  Steppenwolf Theatre started holding selected readings and performances of the texts.  Surrounding museums created exhibits that pertained to the theme, as well as various heritage centers, if the theme had a strong cultural aspect.  DePaul University has also gotten involved, hosting some events and participating with their Masters of Liberal Arts programs.

This year, the event expanded once more, for the first time taking on a full year of conversation.  Starting back in April, they focused on a theme of migration, with the book supporting the theme, rather than the thematic elements supporting the book.  Every month, several events take place.  There is always at least one “main stage” event at the Harold Washington Library Center, several discussions, lectures, and panels at surrounding libraries, and exhibits and events at other various community locations.  One Book, One Chicago has gotten so widespread and far-reaching that DePaul University is offering a course in the upcoming semester devoted solely to “exploring the literary achievement of the One Book, One Chicago selection, drawing on the expertise of DePaul’s English faculty.” (DePaul)  This is the pilot year of the expanded program, but six months in, it still seems to be going strong.  Just recently, for Chicago Book Week, they brought in Isabel Wilkerson to discuss her book The Warmth of Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.  This book was selected to be the literary focus of the year-long event.

One Book, One Chicago is by no means the only program of its kind in America.  The idea began in 1998 in Seattle.  Their program was exclusively through their library system called “If All of Seattle Read the Same Book.”  Since then, the idea of the community-wide book club has rapidly spread throughout the country.  In 2007, the Library of Congress reported 404 similar events. (Wikipedia)  Local Michigan areas that have organized such events include the Detroit Public Library System and East Lansing.  To acquire information about events happening in certain areas, inquire at a local library.

~Additional information from OBOC 1 and 2 packets PDF

~Photo credit

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The Library Network’s Fall Workshop

Hello? Do You Know We’re Here?

The workshop started off with Community Partnerships from the dynamic Laurie Golden from the Canton Public Library. Her job is Community Relations. She had this advice:

  1. Finding Partners: Look around your community, find a need, small scale is fine.
    1. How will this partnership meet your library’s mission?
    2. Is it mutually beneficial?
    3. Are you adding value or expertise?
  2. Administering Partnerships
    1. Structure: Name a point person. 1 library person contacts 1 person at the partner for ALL contact.
    2. Communication: Expectations, Needs (physical – tables, etc. and otherwise). Be clear, make sure they understand that it is an educational program and they cannot “sell” their services to your patrons.
    3. Data: Track stats, impact, media reporting. Be able to show your partner how valuable they are, how important their contribution is.
    4. Reliability issues: All partners sign a performer’s contract even if event is free
  3. Evaluating Partnerships:  (I have to say Laurie is a wonderful speaker and here her PowerPoint  showed a picture of a romance novel cover with the caption “Was it good for you too?” The room erupted into laughter.)
    1. Reciprocity: Did both sides gain from the partnership?
    2. Branding: Would you take this partner home to meet your mom? Do they fit with your goals? Were they reliable? Courteous? Too needy? Labor intensive?
  4. Partner Recognition
    1. Say Thank You – Sign at event, letter of appreciation, mention in press release
    2. Say it Again! – Post flyers around the library during the event thanking the partners
    3. Social Media, article on website
    4. Signage, both in library and for them, give them space for a booth at events, end of SRP, etc.

Some successful partnerships:

City’s Economic Development Department

Farmer’s Market – Storytime and crafts

SCORE  – information/advice for small businesses

H&R Block –program on new tax laws

Walgreens – Flu shots, Blood pressure screenings

DIA – Inside Out program, Chalk Art night, Art Studio, Youth Philharmonic

Canton Leisure Services

Plymouth Flyers – players read to kids

Detroit Area Diaper Bank – library collects diapers, receives excellent PR

Menchie’s – Partners for SRP, with Friends group, brings Mascot, fundraiser where patron takes flyer to  Menchie’s and library receives 10%

DDA – Card for check out at library, patron receives a discount at business, only certain # of check outs allowed in a time period

One final word of advice from Laurie: Don’t be afraid to let something go. Canton sponsored a MLK Day event that outgrew the library and were receiving little to no recognition in the new venue, combined with way too much effort on their part, so they stepped away and let the new venue run with it.

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November 6, 2013 · 9:43 pm