CLA Theme – Collaboration!

One of the most prominent themes at CLA this year was collaboration.  I haven’t attended previous conferences, so if this is a repetitive theme, I apologize – it’s new to me.  Either way, the idea is that the Library has a lot to offer to its community.  The services, programs, materials and, heck, even the building is there for the community.  All those things are there to make the community a better place, to educate the public, and entertain the masses.  Unfortunately, we can’t do it all.  Our funds are limited, and our staff can only keep so many balls in the air.  Other organizations and businesses are in the same boat.  So…  why not collaborate?

Collaboration really isn’t that new of a concept for most libraries.  They’ve always worked with schools to make sure that kids complete their assignments.  They’ve had guest performances and speakers in the past.  I think that the difference between then and now is the amount of collaboration we do and the way we do it.

Take job hunting, for instance.  There are a number of organizations out there that exist solely to help the unemployed find and keep a job.  Not only that, but they’re being funded by the government to do so.  But the sheer number of functionally illiterate people they have asking for help is astounding… and those organizations don’t have the means to educate that set of clients on that particular topic.

Then you look at the library.  The number of people who ask us for help filling out job applications is astonishing!   Many of them need more than the 1 hour of computer time they are allotted at my library.  Our resume writing and interview skills workshops are filled to capacity.  Our staff simply can’t provide any more programs than they already do.

If the libraries were to collaborate with the career/job hunting centers, both organizations would win.  The career centers could refer people for literacy assistance, and the library could refer people who need job placement assistance.  The library could even provide space for specialized workshops.

That’s the easiest example of a collaboration between the library and another organization.  Why not collaborate with a museum?  A local craft store? Arts council?  Other places?

It’s a way for you to stretch your already tight budget, provide additional services, and create tighter ties with other organizations in your community.

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