We come together as a group, and as newcomers to the profession to explore partnerships libraries create with their communities. As discussed in our Introduction to the Information Profession course and through reading, we have learned that a library is more than a place to check out books. It is also a place for the surrounding community to come together, find resources, as well as to learn and to benefit one’s quality of life. The library serves its community, and the question is, what does the community need?
As the United States deals with economic difficulties, more and more people are in need of low cost resources such as computers, a place to apply for jobs, to fill out tax forms, find help with new technology, etc. How can a library provide all of these resources for free or with minimal cost to patrons? Libraries receive funding through taxes, but often there is not enough. This is where community partners come in, and one of the reasons why libraries are often seen working with other community groups. Another reason community partnerships are important to the library is because libraries thrive on community engagement and because of this, there is more credibility to the institution when there is some degree of community partnering. This shows that the library is committed to serve and going to great lengths to provide additional services besides book lending. When the library allows patrons to suggest partnerships that will benefit the whole, this shows that the library is a communal place, and that the patrons do have the right to ask for services that may not be traditional. The reason for libraries to need a partner is easily seen, but why would a community organization or business want to help out a library? For that answer, we turn to what Karen Ellis writes in her case study, Partnerships and Collaborations in Public Library Communities: Resources and Solutions. She states, “New and different educational opportunities are…more appealing when offered in the neutral environment of the library….Family friendly library programming and materials are often a draw for potential residences and businesses alike. This is all about quality of life, meeting specific needs for citizens and industry.” (Ellis, 2011) Community partnerships allow libraries to create a central network around itself. Libraries have already been hubs of information, but now they have grown to become a place to get all manner of questions answered and necessary tasks accomplished.
As an assignment for our Introduction to the Information Profession course, Team 3 has the task of creating a team blog. Just as we collaborate to complete this assignment; so too do libraries collaborate and provide services to their communities. Our Blog will give examples of community partnerships from the perspective of:
- Community Groups
In doing so, we recognize that a library not only serves its own community, but has the capacity to provide services to many communities beyond physical borders.
Partnerships come in all different forms. A library can partner with an individual, a corporation or anything in between. There can be one partner to work with the library for an event or many can be brought together all at once. Some simple guidelines for looking into Community Partnerships as well as setting them up are:
1. Do Some Research.
Keep your eyes and ears open. There was the case where a school hosted a Food Truck event, and a percentage of the profits went to the school. This would work wonderfully for a public library whose city holds large events occasionally, or for a library that is big enough to draw crowds of its own. Food Trucks are popular right now. Libraries can jump on the bandwagon and ride some trends.
2. Use Your Peers.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel. See what is working at other libraries, tweak it for your own use and run with it. Librarians are sharers, a simple query on a listserve can garner some gems.
3. Attend Meetings.
The theme for The Library Network’s Fall Workshop was: Community Partnerships. Much information was gathered. Look for a later post on the subject. You never know what you might learn.
4. Get With The (Internet) Program!
You might be old school, but there is a wealth of information out there. Social Media is exploding. There are library Pinterest Boards with tons of ideas just waiting to be explored. You don’t have to do it all either, have each staff member take part. One can be the Pinterst guru, another can devote themselves to Tumblr, or Twitter.
There are many different, interesting partnerships out there and we hope to inspire you to go out and make some of your own for your library.
Ellis, Karen. (2011). Partnerships and Collaborations in Public Library Communities: Resources and Solutions. Hershey: IGI Global