Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

“I didn’t know the library did that!” Building Better School Partnerships

“I didn’t know the library did that!” How many times have you heard that…this week? Press releases, emails, posters and skywriting do nothing to break through the advertising noise in our communities. Libraries are essential third spaces in our communities so the question is, how can libraries promote our services so people instead say, “Did you know the library did that?”

This is especially true when it comes to collaborations with the schools in our service areas.

Picture of skywriter with banner Libraries have that.
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Schools are busy

Teachers are busy and they don’t always have time to meet. Administrators wear a lot of different hats and can’t always pass along the emails we send. Add to that a global pandemic, and libraries struggle to show teachers and schools our relevance.

What is your goal?

Our department’s end goal was to reach more kids through partnerships with teachers. We visit 60 classes a month and reach 1100 students. Most of the visits are to preschool through 3rd grade classes. Upper elementary students are difficult to schedule time with. In order to get into the classrooms we needed to connect with the teachers. That is where the idea of a Teacher’s Brunch was born. 

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Easy, low-cost program with significant impact 

We partnered with our library friends’ group who offered two free books to educators. During the event the Friend’s staffed the bookshop so the teacher’s could shop. We created teacher swag bags from library branded materials like notepads, pens, and stress balls we already owned Vendors provided us with infographics and goodies about their products. The department created literature to bring focus on our different services. And because everyone loves free stuff, gave out ARCs, unused programming materials, and publisher freebies.

Food doesn’t only draw teens into a program, it brings in people to any program. So we purchased pastries from a local bakery, and we became novice baristas by brewing coffee and hot water for tea. While we didn’t hire a skywriter, we did advertise through a press release, emails to principals, and word of mouth to the teachers we already had partnerships with. It took about 5 hours to put the event together and cost under 300 dollars. 

The key to success

On the day of the event teachers from all levels of education from birth through high school attended. Both school districts were represented along with many of the daycares and preschools in our service area. Myself and two outreach specialists were on hand to talk with teachers and listen. We listened. That was our secret sauce. Yes, many of our conversations started with, “I didn’t know the library did that!” It was fun to then tell the teacher’s that yes, we have a bilingual specialist, or an extensive game collection, or preschool theme units. That was when we handed them an information sheet.

The benefit of holding a Teacher Brunch was priceless. Teachers told us what they needed and this enables us to build relevant programs and services for teachers to supplement the work they do in the classroom. 

All we needed was time to talk without the pressures of a bell or a schedule. Our goal was to build better partnerships with the schools and teachers and that is what we found. 

No sky writers needed. 

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