Does your campus have an active parent organization? Parent organizations are great ways to leverage the manpower of volunteers, grow advocates for your programs, and build stronger programs through collaborative partnerships.
There are a variety of ways to develop that partnership. The first way is to join them! Many librarians participate as officers or committee chairs of their campuses’ parent organizations. It usually helps the parents greatly to have an insider from the faculty among their leaders. It helps the librarian to be embedded among some of their most active stakeholders. If you’re at the table when they are working on initiatives, it’s very easy to speak up about how the library can be supported, and how the library serves every student by educating the whole child.
Beyond the campus level, consider how to involve the state organization in partnering with you. Over the last several years, the Texas Library Association/Texas Association of School Librarians has nurtured a partnership with the Texas PTA. Some of the ways we’ve worked with them include:
- Presenting and exhibiting at each other’s conferences
- Writing articles in each other’s publications
- Developing an award to recognize a collaboration between a school and a PTA
- Participating in legislative activities and promoting each other’s agendas during legislative sessions
Like any partnership, we did have to emphasize that while we were asking their support, we were offering some as well. One of our retiring Executive Board members took a position on their Executive Board. They were looking for volunteers for state level leadership, and the experience the librarian offered to the PTA was a huge bonus. Having our librarian embedded among their leaders also helped to keep them focused on the value of the partnership.
One major “aha” from working with the PTA at both the state and campus level: we still aren’t telling our stories well–most parents didn’t know we offered digital resources, they had no idea what we did, how we helped their students navigate questions of information literacy and digital citizenship, or why certified librarians should be required on every campus.
Author: Jennifer Laboon
Jennifer LaBoon is the Coordinator of Library Technology in Fort Worth ISD. She serves on the AASL Blog Committee, on the Executive Board of the Texas Library Association, volunteers with a local children’s musical theater group, and is an avid TCU fan.