I’ve been thinking about some of our libraries most successful programs and services that we offer. I realized that almost all of the most successful ones have come from partnerships that have been cultivated by the staff. These partnerships have led to larger program numbers, a wider array of programs, and increased services and collections. Even more importantly, we are being offered money and resources to provide some things that we wouldn’t have been able to provide before. The following list are some of the partnerships we have at EPA Library.
East Palo Alto is holding its first ever Literacy Fair called Reading Rainbow in the Park. This came about through a partnership with the Stanford Alumni Association. We were contacted by a liaison from this group who had the idea for a fair and came to us for help. We are providing many of the books and giveaways as well as some of the entertainment and they are providing the organizing of the event itself.
Health and Wellness Programs
We have a local community health organization that provides a lot of the medical services in the area and we offer them a space for community outreach and education about health issues. They especially do many programs for our seniors. My librarians work with this organization to bring those presentations to our library.
Guitar Lending Library
This partnership isn’t complete yet, but it bears mentioning. I received a grant to circulate guitars at the library and one of my librarians brought in a band called the Vintage Music Collective to perform. One of the members of this group teaches music lessons in EPA through their non-profit called Live in Peace and we will be providing the guitars while he provides the lessons.
One of my librarians works closely with an organization called Jobtrain that provides vocational training in the Culinary Arts. The community members who are involved in this program need somewhere to showcase their culinary skills and talents and we have events where food is always welcome. So, these students “get to” provide food and food services to some of our larger events.
This is one of the few ones that I was the one who approached a local organization for. Our Library offers a seed library to the public that was modeled after the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library. When I heard about the library in Richmond I looked around in our community and found the local gardening non-profit called Collective Roots that runs the Farmer’s Market. When I told them about the seed library they jumped at the chance and we now offer seeds for “check-out” from our library. We also have plans to expand to tools for gardening and they provide gardening programs from our library.
An organization called School After School for Successful Youth (SASSY) is an offshoot of the jobtrain organization. The students in this program create a large amount of art, literature, and poetry and they need a space to display their work within the community. We are simply giving them a wall to display the work of the community members. Eventually, (they don’t know this yet) I want to expand this partnership to bound and cataloged materials for circulation. Sort of, a local authors collection, but published and provided only by the library. I did something similar when I was an elementary school librarian and I think it would work well with this kind of partnership.
East Palo Alto History Project
We are working with Stanford students to create a history of EPA mural across the back wall of the library. This mural will show the history of East Palo Alto through the eyes of the library as it has moved and changed over the last 75 years. The movement and changes that occurred in the library parallel a lot of what has happened here and is very reflective of the changes in the community.
We have many more, but those are the ones that I am most excited about. Basically, I’ve figured out my job in this community is to find ways to say yes to as many things as I can then figure out how to make it work. While I might say “not yet,” I almost never say no to a community member unless the service they want to provide lies outside the scope of librarianship or community building.
What I want to know is-
1) What partnerships are you building in your community?
2) What would you say no to?
3) What are some of your dream partnerships?
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