Working through the Pandemic has forced all of us to reevaluate, alter, and adjust to new ways of working. With so many uncertainties, and lack of information, it has also stagnated some of the decisions in how to move forward. As many states have closed schools for the remainder of the school year, both school and public libraries need to strategize ways they can best serve displaced students. Cultivating and deepening partnerships between the two is essential, now so more than ever.
As many vital teacher librarian jobs have been reduced and deprioritized in systems all across the country over the last few years, public library staff need to recognize the vulnerable positions that teacher librarians are in, and the potential of one’s teacher librarian job outsourced is upsetting. Public libraries need to find ways to support school libraries and staff, and to share resources, so that we can all serve the youth in our communities. Here are a few things that public library staff can do and be mindful of when partnering with schools:
- Reach out – Even if you don’t hear back, there is the possibility that your attempt had a meaningful impact by letting your school partners know that you are there for them.
- Follow their lead – Public library staff can uphold the work that school library staff are doing and ask how they can help. It is crucial that the work of the school library staff is seen as vital, and that public library staff is there to support, not to replace.
- Share information and resources – Often public libraries have a deeper well of online resources that will benefit students. Public libraries can share information about these, and ways students can access, with the schools; school library staff can then pass the info along to their teachers and students.
- Support – Staff at both organizations are going to be working with new sets of limited resources, but find out if there are creative ways to support each and partner up to serve youth.
In my public library system, some of the ways that we have been able to partner with schools has been on a case by case basis. Work from these interactions has been able to be shared out to other schools. My library has created temporary online library cards, so that patrons without a library card can access online resources. From a school request, one youth librarian created an easy to follow infographic showing steps to access the online library card. She shared this with other staff; we, in turn, shared with our school contacts, and many have put it on their school’s library website.
One of the schools that I partner with has invited me to do recorded Google Hangouts so I can go over how to access online resources. This has been a great partnership, and we have recorded several short videos where I have shown how to get an online library card if students need one, how to search for available titles in Overdrive, and how to take advantage of other online resources. As a guest speaker, I am able to show how to use the public library during this time.
Every partnership is going to look different. As everyone is going to have different needs, but we all have the same ultimate goal in serving youth during this unprecedented time. Through collaboration and supporting each other we all come out stronger.
This post addresses ALSC Core competencies I, II, III, and V
Danielle Jones is a member of the ALSC Building Partnerships Committee and can be reached at