Tag-Team Librarianship

I absolutely love SLJ editor-in-chief Rebcca Miller's May editorial titled We Need Tag-Team Librarianship.

Why would I love a piece that points out that only 9% of surveyed public librarians work together with school librarians and teachers on homework assignments?  That only 30% collaborate on book purchases that support the curriculum?  I love it because it points out a huge area that we can be throwing our efforts into - if we haven't already.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a series of posts about school/public library partnerships that are possible among libraries:
These posts don't have every possibility in the world of ways to reach out and work with our school colleagues but they list a panoply of initiatives and services that have worked. Most of these collaborations and partnerships happened at my former job where I worked for 22 years. There I had the time and luxury to build and deepen relationships and work with many, many innovative colleagues in the schools.

At my new job of three years, I have had to start all over. We had some, but not always great, relationships with our schools. So I started knocking at doors...principals, administrators, school librarians...until they understood that we were really there not to make their work lives harder but to support them in their efforts. It took awhile but the bridges have been building and we have been getting better. 

We have been invited to more literacy nights and mornings, K registrations events, and times to tell and share storytelling with kids. We initiated a very successful 2nd grade field trip series with transportation funded by a grant (and next year the schools are looking to fund the buses!). We are looking at the new Common Core standards for our state and finding ways to bring more quality non-fiction into our collection. Our schools access our Tumblebooks database. We support their efforts in Battles of the Book by buying additional copies of the book for kids to access. We are collaborating with our middle and high school librarians on "One Book-One Community" reads, programming and field trips.

I often hear my public library colleagues talk about their lack of success with making inroads with school colleagues. I understand. But I also believe that if you just keep trying and working, eventually a door will open a crack...and then a little more ...and a little more until soon you and your school colleagues are doing amazing things.  Like my previous post on SLP visits, there is more than one way to interact with your schools.  Becoming a tag-team partner is a goal worth working on!

Image: 'Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/22177648@N06/2137737248


  1. I have the rare opportunity to work as a public librarian with my school media certificate in the position of School Liaison for our local district. The main district I serve has five buildings and one teacher-librarian who resides at the middle school and so I see the situation as an opportunity to provide additional support for the teachers. I love my job - we provide resource bags directly to the teachers for their classrooms, we offer school cards so they can check out materials, reserve shelves in the library, access to display cases, information literacy programs for 2nd and 3rd graders, CPDU programs for educators, and more. From our perspective, we provide support and resources for the teachers and their classrooms, which in turn directly impacts their students who happen to be our public library patrons. I love the opportunity to collaborate, develop relationships, and promote a one-community environment. It takes a village, as they say...

    1. That sounds so great. I just think when we work with our schools we serve our communities and kids so much more powerfully. I wish more libraries saw the worth of a school liaison on the public library staff. Tat is truly life-cycle librarianship!