Administrative and Management Skills

IMAGINE… Building Partnerships

During some recent discussions to restructure the ALSC committees, it was decided that the ALSC Building Partnerships committee would end after ALA Annual 2020. The hope is that partnerships can be worked into all of the different committee work that ALSC does, rather than have a separate committee for this charge.

The Building Partnerships committee had already gone through various changes over the last few years to make the committee work more versatile and open ended, and you may also remember it by the former name Liaison to National Organizations. Although this committee will no longer continue to exist, we would like the work that the committee has been doing to live on in ALSC, and act as a resource for librarians in creating partnerships in their communities. 

One of the recent projects the committee finished is the IMAGINE Partnerships Infographic. The infographic is meant to serve as a tool to help libraries assess, plan and manage community partnerships. The word IMAGINE is used as an acronym to breakdown the different components that are useful in developing a partnership:

  • Identify 
  • Manage
  • Advocate
  • Grow
  • Implement 
  • Nurture
  • Evaluate 
Infographic showing how the acronym IMAGINE can be used to help build partnerships

Librarians can use the infographic to evaluate whether or not a partnership is deemed beneficial to their patrons and library system. The goal of this tool is to help avoid an unsuccessful or overly demanding partnership. The checklist on the back may be used in helping to further investigate the decision. If you’ve been approached by a community organization to partner with the library, did you think of why or how this partnership could benefit the library? Basic steps include researching the partnership and asking questions in a way that will determine the usefulness. 

  • Will it create opportunities?
  • Advocate for the library?
  • Will the collaboration strategically support the library mission?
  • What resources will the library be providing the partnership?
  • Are there risks involved?

The checklist will also help list the benefits of this possible partnership. If there are many positive takeaways, then moving forward is good. If not, think about how you would like to proceed. It is important to incorporate how to say no to a partnership and list the reasons why it is not a mutually beneficial agreement. Learning to say no to a possible drain on your time and resources is just as important as saying yes to a partnership that will have a successful outcome for your library.  

The committee has also curated a list of national organizations serving children and youth that was last updated in 2020. We hope that this list and the infographic will help you reimagine what sort of partnerships your library offers to expand your programming and services for youth. For examples of successful partnerships please take a look at the following past Building Partnerships ALSC blog posts:

If you have a successful partnership you want to share, mention it in the comments, or request to submit a blog post for ALSC by emailing

Leigh Fox is the Assistant Manager of the Central Youth Wing at the Brooklyn Public Library in Brooklyn, New York. She is a former Co-Chair of the Building Partnerships Committee and can be reached at Hadeal Salamah is a Lower/Middle School Librarian at Georgetown Day School in Washington DC. She is a former Co-Chair of the Building Partnerships Committee and can be reached at

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group; V. Outreach and Advocacy; VI. Administrative and Management Skills; and VII. Professionalism and Professional Development

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