Partnerships and networks are vital to effective children’s service. Developing a true partnership (a relationship between two organizations who are working toward a mutually agreed upon goal), as opposed to simply making a contact, takes some effort.
Choosing an organization with compatible goals, nurturing the relationship, regularly communicating, and continuously evaluating the project are all very important to a successful outcome. The following are examples of perfect children’s service connection agencies. You will undoubtedly be able to come up with others based upon your own community:
Become active (or at least a presence) in the community. Attend meetings and events and introduce yourself and your library whenever possible. Make, or have made, business cards to hand out to people you wish to develop a connection with.
Making connections around town serves a dual purpose. It improves your awareness of available resources and it reminds other organizations that you exist. These connections can prove beneficial in more ways than one. They can not only refer children to your collection and services, but also make your budget go farther by providing prizes, presenters or other support for programming.
An ideal partnership, although often overlooked as one, is that between the public and school library. Staff should be familiar with one another, keep in touch, and work together as much as possible throughout the year in order to effectively reach children. At the same time the two can provide mutually beneficial support to one another in areas of school curriculum and recreational and summer reading. A good relationship between school and public libraries is important to ensure there are no gaps in service. It also results in enjoyment of reading and skills retention.
A strong school–library relationship proves never more important than in “spring when a young (boy’s or girl’s) fancy turns to thoughts of”…summer! It is at this point when the library needs to swoop in and turn their fancies to thoughts of summer reading. The public library needs to have the support of the school library, united for a single cause. Staff from the public library should schedule a visit to the school(s) during May to promote summer reading. School library staff should facilitate the visit and even arrange to co-present with public staff, if possible. The visit could range from a few minutes at an end-of –year all school assembly, to quickly popping in various classrooms and giving a mini summer library pep-rally tailored to each grade.
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