The new school year is just around the corner. Now would be a good time to make contact with your local public librarian, this may be either the outreach, children’s or teen services librarian. Call to set up an in-person meeting or start an email chat whichever works best for you. Sometimes it is difficult to do this once the school year begins so take a little of your vacation time to get a head start. Our public librarian counterparts are interested in working with school librarians.
AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation held a Networking Uncommons session at ALA this past June. Our group of both public and school librarians had very similar answers to posed questions when it came to working with each other. Here are a few questions from that session.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your work as a school or public librarian?
- Advocating for my program, especially since resources are limited.
- Administrators, parents, and teachers don’t know what we do.
- Staff shortages.
- Communicating and marketing services.
- Not enough time to focus on big picture/meaningful work.
How can public librarians best support their local school librarians? And how can school librarians support their local public librarians?
- Meet regularly.
- Plan events together.
- Make things happen for the community.
- School and public librarians should make the time to get to know each other.
- The first few times you meet can be difficult (growing pains), but keep trying!
- Flex our political muscles together in a united advocacy voice!
What aspects or outcomes of your school or public library job do you consider most essential?
- Supporting kids and teachers in their efforts.
- Facilitating relationships.
- Inspiring kids to read and learn.
- Integrating technology into kids’ lives and experiences.
- Improving outcomes for kids and families.
- Preparing youth to succeed both in school and in life.
When you look at those answers, you can see that we both have the same concerns for our libraries and meeting the needs of our students. How would you answer these questions? Have you found an effective way of working with your local public librarian?
Author: Joann Absi
I am the media coordinator at Eugene Ashley High School in Wilmington, NC. I have had positions at elementary, middle and high school libraries during my career. I am a past president of NCSLMA. Currently I am serving as the Communications Chair for NCSLMA and a member of AASL/ALSC/YALSA School/Public Library Cooperation.