Just like every Batman needs his Robin, your small library needs a strong partner in the community. That’s why when your small library is looking to broaden its patron base (or fight the Joker), it’s only natural to look for the people in your community who can help you achieve your mission.
Forging partnerships with local businesses and organizations can help your library expand its reach as well as catapult into the superhero status it so deserves. But who are some potential partners in your community, and how can you connect with them? Here are a few ways to flash your bat-signal and make your small library becomes the center of your community.
Connecting with Schools
Students and teachers are some of the top MVPs (Most Valuable Partnerships) for your library. While many schools in the area may call upon your library’s extensive resources during book report season or your regular Dewey Decimal System workshop, your library has a lot more to offer than many realize. Connect with your local school system and figure out what resource gaps they may need your help to fill. By working with students and teachers directly, your library will be much better positioned to better serve your community in the future.
Even if your library has already made contact with your local school, there are a few new ways you can repurpose your library’s services to get even more involved with your local school system. Try getting your local language department involved and suggest regular foreign language classes at your library. They may not know that a certain fruity, language-loving friend exists within the shelves of your library and they could be equally in need of a new partner in curriculum.
Connecting with Local Businesses
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: local business are some of the most untapped resources in your small community. Many businesses are not aware of the benefits that a potential partnership with the library has to offer. That means it’s our job to inform them! Identify a few businesses in your area, whether that be a small dental practice or a local sandwich shop just starting out. There’s a ton that goes into running a business and your library is chock full of operational secrets that could put even Alfred Pennyworth’s diary to shame.
Start small in your quest to work with local businesses and take some time to get to know your library’s regulars. It’s likely that they are already utilizing the library for their business, but there may be even more resources like makerspaces, audiobooks and language-learning opportunities you could introduce them to. Are your patrons looking to start a new business with Richard M. White’s Entrepreneur’s Manual or is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People more up their alley? Whatever their managing style, make sure your patrons are well aware of the resources your library can provide them every step of the way.
Creating lasting partnerships i is key to making your library the true center of your community. For more information on the benefits your library can have on the community, take a look at our whitepaper: Why We (Will Always) Need Public Libraries.