Beginnings of a Public Library Partnership

Working together on a common goal is the foundation of any collaboration. Getting young adults excited about reading is an overarching goal school libraries share with public libraries. Combining our efforts to get teens reading is a great way to reach that goal. Tapping into resources that we both need from each other only strengthens our current teen programs.  

Brainstorming Sessions

The first step to any good collaboration is finding the time to get together. Emails can do a lot for initial organization steps. Finding out who your contacts at your local public library are can be as simple as looking on their website. If the first website browse doesn’t yield names or email addresses for contacts, a phone call to the library to ask about contacts would be the next step. 

Once you have established that initial email and introduction, the next step is setting up a planning meeting. This meeting can be as simple as a coffee chat, casual lunch, or just a visit to the public library to look around and talk with your school-age range public librarian. The amazing ideas and similar concerns and goals that will come out of a simple conversation will motivate you. 

While on my initial planning visit to the teen section of our public library, I noticed that they did not have a display for our state teen book award. After talking with the teen librarian he was more than willing to join forces to promote the state book award together. 

Planning for Students

After brainstorming ways we could promote our teen state book award together, we decided on doing a voting kick-off party for the awards at the public library. Each school year I dedicate a display to our teen state award, which is the Lincoln Award. Leaving it up all year for students helps them find what books are on the list each year easily. The young adult librarian and I talked about doing something similar at the public library so students knew right where to go to read a Lincoln Award book there as well. Our public library was kind enough to offer to cover the cost of pizza and drinks for students who would be attending. My job is to continue to promote the award at school and advertise our kick-off party to students. I am also creating Lincoln Award book-themed crafts and trivia for us to do at the event.

Connecting our school libraries to our towns’ public libraries is a great way to share resources and strengthen community connections for students. Reaching out is taking the first step toward a partnership that will benefit everyone involved. This single event will act as a springboard into future conversations and collaborations to motivate teen readers.


Author: Elizabeth Libberton

Elizabeth Libberton is the library media specialist at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles Illinois. She currently writes book reviews for School Library Journal. She is a member of the ALA Awards Selection Committee. Also, she is a member of the steering committee for the AISLE Lincoln Book Award.

Categories: Blog Topics, Community, Community/Teacher Collaboration

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