School and public library partnerships were the buzzwords at last month’s California Library Association conference in Sacramento. A packed room of librarians gathered to discuss and debate the pros and cons of school and public library partnerships. There was a panel of five presenters that included a representative/librarian from the California Department of Education, a County Office of Education librarian, a teacher librarian, a public librarian, and a district librarian. During the session the panel encouraged everyone to talk about what is working, what’s not, what needs to happen to move forward, and how we can work together to make it happen. Once the audience understood that they were part of this conversation, they quickly shared ideas, dreams, and concerns.
Some of the more interesting existing or future partnerships that were mentioned:
- Provide an eCard that would give students easy access to online resources including databases.
- Create and coordinate information literacy lessons through social media, websites, and printed materials
- Create One Book programs to be shared with the school, the public library, and the community.
- Promote Open Education and Open Education Resources through the schools and public libraries.
- After school hours, public librarians are staffing school libraries at Fresno Unified School District to ensure equity.
- Explore the Limitless Libraries partnership between the Nashville Public Library and Metro Nashville Public School to share resources and learning materials.
- Establish joint use libraries in rural and/or high-poverty areas.
- Implement a program that allows students to use their district ID cards as a full access library card (currently used at Napa, Tacoma, Boston, Kansas City, MO).
- Explore ILS partnerships between the public library and school library as a cost-efficient alternative.
- Share data between schools and public libraries by placing bar codes on student library cards for full public library access.
- Talk to one another…share staff development opportunities to create better communication and more collaboration.
- Explore joint collection development, both print and digital, as a cost-effective measure.
In retrospect, the barriers and concerns seemed small in comparison:
- Lack of understanding among stakeholders concerning collaborative projects that improve student outcomes.
- Librarians must educate their own administrations and staffs to understand the importance of joint services.
- Lack of trust between public and school librarians.
- Concerns that public librarians will take over teacher librarians’ role.
- Both groups should try to focus on student achievement, not on job security.
- Can the two groups come together as “professional librarians”?
- Lack of teacher librarian staffing could mean that para-professionals provide library services.
- Identify stakeholders especially technology staffs and create ways to avoid pushback from department heads/leads.
- Be aware that vendors may not like partnerships and could create obstacles to overcome.
We shared more ideas but primarily we started the conversation. We now want to continue this and also open it up to more people across this country. To that end we have created a Facebook group: United We Stand: California school and public libraries working together.
In this time of uncertainty and growing intolerance, we invite you to join this group and help us keep the conversation going. We need to forget our differences and to join together to provide the best services to our students and our communities. If you know others who would like to participate, please invite them as well. Public librarians, school librarians, administrators, teachers, youth service experts…all are welcome!
Author: Kate MacMillan
18 years as Coordinator of Library Services for Napa Valley USD and Napa Valley School Library Consortium; 2010-current CDE Recommended Literature Committee member; 8 years as an outside library consultant for Follett Library Resources; 6 years as a Napa County Library Commissioner; Current member of California Dept of Education’s Literature Committee; Napa TV Public Access board member; ALA, AASL, CLA (Californiia Library Association), CSLA (California School Library Association) and CUE (Computer Using Educators). Conference presentations include: United We Stand; School and Public Libraries Working Together (CLA 2016, CSLA 2017), It’s Not Your Mother’s Library 2012 and 2013 (CUE); Enhancing Online Resources through Library Partnerships (CUE 2010); Implementing School Library Consortium (CSLA 2008); Athletes as Readers and Leaders (2008 Association of American Publishers & CSLA Project). Contributor to School Libraries: What’s Now, What’s Next, What’s Yet to Come!