September is here, school bells are ringing, public youth services librarians are wrapping up their Summer Reading programs and the ambitious may have already begun brainstorming for next summer’s program. As you evaluate and plan for your programs, think about the benefits of involving community partners in reaching your goals.
Summer Reading is not just a program, for my library it’s also our biggest public awareness campaign. One of the goals I had for our 2022 Summer Reading Program was to increase community partner involvement through a couple avenues, business sponsorships and outreach. For 2022, local businesses sponsored the Summer Reading Program by donating prizes, off-site programming spaces, and food for various events. The reciprocal benefits of engaging with community partners are invaluable in library success. Our sponsors enable us to provide more engaging programming through funds and in-kind donations, and in return we provide them placements on our promotional materials in print and online. The library also looked toward childcare facilities and other summer youth programs for opportunities to reach children who were unable to attend programming on-site at the library.
My rural library was able to provide outreach programming to the school district’s Kids Klub Program during our 2022 Summer Program, which offers after school programming during the school year and 40 days of full-day programming during the Summer break. The program serves nearly half of all elementary students in the district, a majority of whom are low-income students. Over the course of six weeks, the library was able to offer abridged versions of our Surf into STEM program featuring water-based science activities going along with CSLP’s Oceans of Possibilities theme. Building relationships with Kids Klub staff over the six week program also opened up a dialogue of resource sharing with regard to the school-year program and other library offerings.
Some tips for successful partnerships and outreach adapted from Clear and Kind: Building Boundaries in Outreach Work PLA 2022:
- Know your limits: what exact services are you able to offer and for how many participants?
- What do you need: is there anything you need your partner organization to provide? e.g. parking, assistance with set up and tear down, etc. If requesting donations ask for specific dollar amounts or the exact services you would like provided in-kind.
- Evaluation: is the partnership successful? Is there room for growth? Are there additional resources that could enhance the program?
Anne Price, Children’s Librarian at the North Platte Public Library in Nebraska is writing this post on behalf of the Public Awareness Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This post addresses the following: ALSC Core Competency V.6 Communicates and collaborates in partnership with other agencies, institutions and organizations serving children in the community to achieve common goals and overcome barriers created by socioeconomic circumstances, culture, privilege, language, gender, ability and other diversities.