With approximately 875 school librarians left in California, it’s time to re-evaluate school library staffing and services. To the remaining district library administrators, this is not merely a statistic but a day-to-day reality. How do we provide services in an ever-changing library world with inadequate staffing? The United We Stand project is the result of these concerns and conversations with Kate MacMillan and Jennifer Baker and school and public librarians in northern California. The first presentation will be discussion in a round-table format at the California Library Association’s fall conference and will be moderated by the California Department of Education’s School Library Technology Consultant. Proposals have also been submitted to the CUE (Computer Using Educators) fall conference and the California School Library Association’s spring 2017 conference.
United We Stand: The future of school and public library partnerships.
School and public libraries ought to be a natural partnership. We serve the same constituents, share the same concerns and mission, use the same tools, and face the same challenges. From an outside perspective, we are on the same team. Yet for a variety of reasons, many institutionalized, we operate in separate sectors, and that needs to change.
It’s time to start the conversation with representatives from public and school libraries to determine what keeps us from achieving true collaboration and, more importantly, what we can do about it. We need to create a vision of what a true partnership between school and public libraries at the local, regional, and state levels can look like. Together we should begin to take the first steps on a path to jointly advocating for resources, collectively promoting our services, aligning our goals (if not our acronyms), identifying common problems and developing integrated, smart solutions that serve families across the state.
This is a true call to action! This is more than just addressing “how can I get my teen librarian into a classroom to book talk?” Or “how can we promote summer reading together?” The goal must be to have a raw discussion about what keeps public and school libraries from coordinated advocacy. Which barriers are institutionalized and which are just cultural? What can we do about them locally and possibly on a larger scale?
If school and public librarians are being called to swing into action, we need to do it together with our fellow professionals. With everyone at the table we can create a new coalition of librarians from both sides of the same coin who can partner to provide much needed services and come up with an action plan for making a real difference. It’s time to begin the discussion!
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!