Whether you’re located in a sprawling urban setting or a small rural area, every library can benefit from establishing a strong partnership with local school systems. From sharing e-resources to hosting themed educational events, getting involved with the schools in your community could be your ticket to bringing in more excited patrons in 2017. We’ve put together a few ways to connect with those schools, get your name out there, and help them see just what makes your library so great. Trust us - it’ll be a win-win for everyone involved.
First of all, let’s talk about why you should care about the number 1,900. According to The Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, it’s the average number of hours of free time (that is, time spent out of school) that young people have in a given year. That’s about 79 whole days worth of time they could be spending in your library, soaking up the plethora of e-resources and student programs that you offer. Building solid, long-lasting partnerships with area schools doesn’t always come easy, though - and as a busy librarian, you’ll want to make the most of your efforts.
5. Identify resource gaps that your library can fill.
As comprehensive as many schools’ curriculum can be, chances are your library has access to some learning resources that they haven’t tapped into yet. This is a great place to start. Contact area schools, chat with school librarians and teachers, and begin by simply asking a few questions. Which resources do their students use most - do they tend to gravitate towards books, e-learning programs, or movies? What types of skills attract their students - are they all about learning how to code, or maybe (hint, hint) a new language?
Once you’ve connected with representatives from a few schools and gotten the lowdown on their students’ needs and interests, you’ll be better equipped to let them know how you can help. Compile a list of the relevant resources you can provide, focusing on offerings that speak to those areas of interest. Don’t forget to include recent additions to your collection (for example, one of the new language courses from Mango!)
4. Host a monthly teachers-only focus group.
Teachers and librarians, that is. Invite local educators to a literacy-themed party on your home turf - you’ll have the perfect platform to showcase all the resources your library can offer their students, while demonstrating your commitment to mutual growth and collaboration. Brainstorm ways to integrate library offerings into classroom curriculum. Do you have a particular e-resource for learning romance languages that would be the perfect complement to a European culture class? What about a program designed for disadvantaged learners in the community? It’s a great way to open up your library as a free space for dialogue between teachers, school staff members, and librarians alike.
Once you’ve got the creative juices flowing, consider making the focus group a recurring event - perhaps monthly or quarterly. Just as the selection of resources at your library is ever-changing, so are the needs of any particular school. Having regular face-to-face meetings will allow for continued innovation and gives all of you the chance to account for feedback.
3. Build innovative after-school and summer programs.
If you’re looking to truly solidify that library-school partnership, developing strong after-school and summer programs is crucial to success. Based on the information you get from your focus groups, determine what types of extracurricular programs you might offer local students. Younger children might enjoy an interactive language boot camp, while high schoolers might go crazy for a crash course on basic business skills. If you already have some of these programs in place, how can they be enhanced to attract even more student patrons?
Once you have an idea of the programs you’d like to implement at your library, work with teachers to develop an all-star promotional plan to get their students dying to sign up. Need ideas? Not to worry - download our white paper that offers fresh ways to brand your library from a few of today’s top librarians, or steal some of these great strategies for promoting e-resources.
2. Get involved in PTO meetings.
Let’s not forget about parents. After all, they’re the ones who often have the ultimate say in the activities their children participate in. Gather up a few of your literacy-enthused staff members and head to a PTO meeting to actively engage with parents in the community. Set up a booth devoted to some of the different resources and programs your library offers, with brochures, free library cards, and email sign-up sheets. If possible, get some in-person testimonials from both teachers and students about the value of your library’s diverse offerings. When parents are happy, we’re all happy.
1. Emphasize collaboration and commitment.
A partnership is just that: two parties benefiting mutually from a shared initiative. And when it’s two different places centered around the love of learning, it’s only natural that they work together. Show your appreciation for your local schools by honoring a different “Teacher of the Month” event at your library, or displaying student artwork in your windows. Treat the schools in your community as an extension of your library, and they’ll do the same for you.
Here at Mango, we’re all about collaboration in the name of learning - especially language and culture learning. Librarians are some of the hardest working learning champions we know, and that’s why we want to be there to help you build strong partnerships in your community, gain more patrons, and ultimately improve literacy levels for everyone. If your library doesn’t already offer Mango Languages, find out why our courses have quickly become the most-loved language learning program among local libraries across the country, or learn more by chatting directly with one of our friendly Mangos. Local schools will be begging to partner up with you faster than you can say “bookworm.”
As you know, librarians wear many hats. You're a teacher, researcher, artist and now, an advertiser. Want to know how you can channel your inner Don Draper to better promote the awesome offerings your library has?
Download our white paper and you'll learn:
- How to embrace social media and interact with patrons online.
- How you can create a network of resources online and with the media.
- How other librarians have gotten creative in their branding efforts.
- Ways you can let your resources shine.