Blogger Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee

Partnerships with arts organizations to enhance programs

Youth Theater
Children Rehearsing on Stage by Charles Mims

As mentioned in my February 2, 2018 ALSC post (Arts enhance experiences for under-served populations), the arts provide many entry points for youth participation. It encourages individuality, exploration and the process is as important as the outcome. This past year, my colleague Becca Tanen,  DC Public Library’s Children’s Librarian for the Center for Accessibility, wanted to explore theater based activities for program enhancement. So she decided to do a partnership with a theater company. After researching organizations with experience creating universally designed programs, she reached out to Imagination Stage (IStage) for the partnership with this endeavor. IStage is one of DC’s renowned regional youth theater organizations,

Partnership Goals and Process

The partnership goals were to learn new program ideas through theater and to offer a different type of activity for all children – meaning there are no barriers to participation. Below Becca describes her experience with this collaboration.

“The workshops were structured so that I could learn <the Favorite Stories progam> from Sam Mauceri, the IStage teaching artist, and eventually bring the program to other branches. Sam led the first program while I observed; we led the second and third sessions together; and I led the final program on my own while Sam observed. Sam and I were in contact in advance of each program to select a book for the program, and spoke over the phone to develop a lesson plan. After each session, she gave me constructive feedback that was extremely helpful in becoming more comfortable leading the program.”

Outcomes of Partnership

The public library audience is usually not known ahead of time. This program is structured to be flexible to accommodate children of all ages and varying abilities. Becca said “Imagination Stage was a great partner to work with”. The train the presenter model allowed more time to become familiar and comfortable leading a new type of program. In addition to serving the DC Public Library patrons, the partnership allowed for an in-depth professional development experience.


Carmen Boston is the Children’s Services Coordinator for DC Public Library. In addition to loving to read, she enjoys taking advantage of the many arts programs in Washington, DC, especially the free Smithsonian museums.

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: III. Programming Skills.

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