Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries

The Human Connection: Public Libraries as Community Partners

Public librarians wear many hats.  From helping with school projects and feeding hungry children, to devising inventive ways to entertain families spending all day in our buildings, we must be ready at a moment’s notice to play social worker, housekeeper, and even parent.

A tenet of our role as librarians is to embed ourselves in our community, as the library itself is a hub for collaboration and connection.  One way to accomplish this is through joining the board of directors of a local organization with a similar mission.  Having a representative from the public library at the table can provide a mutual awareness of services and programs to be marketed to those who need them. Some things to consider before pursuing board membership:

  • Organizational vs. Individual member- Are you there as a representative or an independent member of the community?
  • Passion for the mission- Be passionate about the organization’s vision and mission. Board membership is about more than going to meetings.
  • Is there mutual benefit to your organization and theirs as a result of your membership? Are there conflicts of interest?

Pikes Peak Library District found a revolutionary way to involve more participants while building community through an event called Human Library.  Started in Copenhagen nearly 20 years ago, the Human Library creates safe conversational space to challenge stereotypes and bias.  Human “books” are checked out by attendees and tell their stories in one on one conversations.  After three successful events under our belt, it is clear that our patrons want and need opportunities to ask difficult questions.  As we continue to reshape the idea of what a library can be, we increase our potential to connect with our community and each other.

For more information about Human Library: 

For more information about nonprofit board membership: 

Today’s guest blogger is Evan Kendrick. Evan is the Children’s Librarian at the Penrose Library in Colorado Springs, CO. Evan is also a part of the ALSC Mentoring Program as a Mentee!

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: III. Programming Skills and VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *