Category Archives: Uncategorized

Community Partnership and Academic Libraries

With many universities and communities feeling the sting of shrinking budgets, academic libraries have become an important source of community and university growth and advancement. This is not a new arrangement as more than 90% of academic libraries have provided access to library facilities and resources to community members since the 1960s (Leong, 2013, p. 223). Communities provide a source material for scholarly work. Mutual respect for what each group brings to the table is vital for successful partnerships. Leong breaks down the benefits of academic library support for both the library and the community:

1) Community access- Libraries can offer their resources to the community.

2) Information literacy- Community members use library resources to evaluate, assimilate, and create scholarly work.

3) Cooperation, exchange and partnership- Non-academic and academic librarians can share experiences, skills, and resources.

4) Exhibitions and scholarly events- The university is provided a way to advertise scholarly work through publicized projects.

(Leong, 2013, p. 220)

The following three academic libraries express these four principles through their engagement with the community.

University of Toronto Library

Community partnerships can become integral to both groups and provide long-term benefits. Community access has long been a value of University of Toronto Libraries. The library has served the community in one form or another since its founding through focusing on information literacy. The first major library built in 1859 held a public reading room and now most of the 44 Toronto University libraries are accessible by the public. Community borrowers can even access research libraries if special dues are paid (Leong, 2013, 224). While some might fear this hinders the service provided to primary patrons (students and faculty), it is outweighed by the numerous benefits. Access builds support in the community, provides a foundation for working with community groups, and acknowledges community funding (Leong, 2013, p. 223). The success of the community feeds into the success of the library (Leong, 2013).

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Digital repositories can be a welcomed boom for community partnership initiatives. For larger institutions there can be many partnerships going on at once, making it important to track and coordinate university efforts. During the course of UMA’s proposal to gain Carnegie community engagement classification, which requires a way for an institution to track its community partnership data, the digital repository project was devised. UMA library’s efforts to “improve institutional mechanisms for tracking and reporting activities and impacts” would allow a more holistic means of tracking data (Miller, 2012, p. 115). The key to successful partnerships lies in funding and sustainability. Digital records allowed college officials and the community to see the fruits of the program and plan accordingly. The dissemination of the results through an open access repository provides an alternate distribution method to costly academic journals, which weigh heavily on the budgets of many universities to host (Miller, 2012, p. 113).  However, staffing for the community partnerships section was redirected in 2010, leaving its fate uncertain (Miller, 2012). This could have been the result of one problem pointed out by Miller: the inability to capture faculty motivation due to academic assessment systems poorly tracking individual contribution (Miller, 2012, p. 111).

University of British Columbia

Public libraries often have a section dedicated to local history, but it would be a tall order to document the history of an entire immigrant group. Academic libraries like no other institution can “serve faculty and the public as an institutional memory for the community” (Cho, 2011, p. 18). These institutions have the tools and expertise to implement costly and long-term projects that reach beyond the community. The stories and impact of Chinese-Canadians have not been well documented. To correct this historical blind spot, the libraries of University of British Columbia created an online database of community history that included oral histories, documents, and artifacts that would be easily accessible to the public. The library not only provided a meeting place for community members to tell their stories and digitization workshops to preserve them, but also devised a new classification system that took into account the intricacies of Chinese-Canadian scholarship. Not only does it serve the university with the creation of new scholarly opportunities and material, it creates tools for other libraries, schools, and institutions to spread and build off their work (Cho, 2011).


Do you think it is the duty of academic institutions to provide access to community members? Why or why not?


Hang Tat Leong, J. (2013). Community Engagement – Building Bridges between University and Community by Academic Libraries in the 21st Century. Libri: International Journal Of Libraries And Information Services, (3), 220.

Miller, W. A., & Billings, M. (2012). A University Library Creates a Digital Repository for Documenting and Disseminating Community Engagement. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 16(2), 109-121. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from

Cho, A. (2011). Bringing History to the Library: University-Community Engagement in the Academic Library. Computers In Libraries, 31(4), 15-18.


Community Partnerships for Special Libraries

A survey of literature on community partnerships for special libraries yields results as diverse as the field itself. While there are many types of special libraries, here I would like to focus on outreach efforts put forward by health, art, and government document libraries.

Health Libraries

Opportunities for health libraries to work with communities are myriad. Acc0rding to Wood, Siegel, and Dutcher, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has put forward initiatives to promote the well-being of members of the Native American community. In 1996, NLM assessed its support of this community and found it to be lacking. In the years since their support has rapidly expanded.  One such program provided health science library internships to Hispanic and/or Native American library students. Another popular program has utilized powwows as a forum to demonstrate Medline Plus and other online health resources (Wood, Siegel, and Dutcher, 2005).

A further example of community partnerships initiated by health librarians exists in the area of disaster preparedness and response. Featherstone states that to some, the connection between LIS professionals and disaster management may not be immediately apparent. In reality, rapidly obtaining and evaluating the right kinds of information is vital to disaster efforts.  Libraries have responded to disaster situations by helping patrons fill out government relief or other assistance forms. They have also worked with shelter facilities to establish makeshift libraries, and compiled information to be distributed by call centers (Featherstone, 2012).

Art Libraries

Art Libraries have historically supported the visual and textual research needs of art students. However, Leousis reports that one program at Washington University in St. Louis took a more business-oriented approach. The art librarian partnered with the director of a design and research studio to develop a workshop and guide which advised art students on how to obtain grants and other funding post-graduation (Leousis, 2013).

Gluibizzi states that an additional way for art libraries to reach out and forge new community relationships is by collaborating with museums. Such a relationship was envisioned between the Ohio State Libraries and the Columbus Museum of Art. The two institutions worked together to design an exhibition and outreach program to jointly showcase respective collections which complemented one another. The initial plan was shelved when the partners failed to secure a grant to fund it. However, strengthened relationships between the library and museum persisted (Gluibizzi, 2008).

Government Document Libraries

An interesting community opportunity for government documents collections is to expand their efforts to reach young patrons. According to Adamich et al., the El Paso Public Library created a Government Documents Children’s Collection and located it in their Children’s Department. The display featured resources oriented toward kids, parents, and teachers. The program led to increased circulation for these materials and greater awareness of the Government Documents Department at the library. At the National level, the Federal Depository Library Program has created programs to engage kids, as well. In 2006 a Government Documents Kids Group was founded. This team promotes the use of government document titles by, “making presentations to groups of children and professional organizations, writing articles, creating websites, and organizing an annual Constitution Day Poster Contest.” (Adamich, Childers, Davis, and Faria, 2012).


In closing, special libraries have a wide variety of avenues to reach out into communities with innovative programs. A review of such initiatives reveals exciting opportunities to promote unique collections and both attract and serve users.


Adamich, T., Childers, M., Davis, K., Faria, J., & Satterfield, A. (2012). The gov doc kids group and free government information. IFLA Journal, 38(1), 68-77. doi:10.1177/0340035211435324

Featherstone, R. (2012). The Disaster Information Specialist: An Emerging Role for Health Librarians. Journal Of Library Administration, 52(8), 731-753.

Gluibizzi, A. K. (2009). The world of outreach: one art librarian’s perspective. Library Review, (2).

Leousis, K. (2013). Outreach to Artists: Supporting the Development of a Research Culture for Master of Fine Arts Students. Art Documentation: Bulletin Of The Art Libraries Society Of North America, 32(1), 127-137.

Wood, F. B., Siegel, E. R., & Dutcher, G. A. (2005). The National Library of Medicine’s Native American    outreach portfolio: a descriptive overview. Journal of The Medical Library Association, 93(4), S21-S34.

For Discussion:

How might primary school children benefit from the use of Government Document collections?

Archives and the Community- Building a Tighter Identity

Archives don’t typically advertise their collections, they simply collect and preserve.  However, those resources represent the communities they collect from and they provide a valuable resource to those communities.  More community involvement can also increase the collections and more resources reach the archives.

Partnering with the community takes a bit more creativity, as archives inherently have that prison-like feel where information goes in, but rarely comes out.  Partnering with community centers, schools and local museums can raise awareness to what the archives has to offer.  However, since a lot of archives are connected with universities, there is a lot that the universities can do to help too.

Creating events or exhibitions that will promote the collections at the archives is one way that archives can get involved in the community. The BYU Museum of Art’s exhibition in 2011-2012 on the three American painters from the Weir family showed a partnership between the special collections archives and the museum (BYU Museum of Art, 2012).  The bulk of the exhibition was part of the museum’s permanent collection and the artists’ papers were located in the archives.  While collaborating to research the exhibition, both the special collections archives and the museum of art increased awareness about the others collections.  The museum especially highlighted the special collection’s digital project as the special collections pushed the Weir papers digitization up to meet the exhibition timeframe (BYU HBLL Digital Collections, 2013).  While this shows a partnership from within a university setting, these principles can be applied to a community setting as well.

Similar events can promote community unity when the archive and other entities are more directly related to the community.  UCLA partnered with a LA archive called AFAMILA (Archiving Filipino American Music in Los Angeles) and a local Philippine Folk-Arts project called Kayamanan Ng Lahi (KNL) giving the archive a $40,000 grant to partner with the KNL to improve the AFAMILA’s collections and spread awareness.  This gave the community a chance to get involved, hiring community members and students to record Filipino music and performances.  This improved the collection, got the community involved, and increased awareness in the campus community as well.  Most importantly, the Filipino community knew that the archive was theirs and the archive became part of the community (Vallier, 2010).

Utah State University did something similar working with other universities in the state, as well as the American Folklore Society, to expand and promote the Fife Folklore Archives on USU campus.  Working within the school’s folklore program, the archives got other state universities involved, and eventually the American Folklore society and government agencies, including the Library of Congress (Williams, 2004).  This started out on a smaller scale, and still has effects on the local community.  The Fife Folklore Archives’ Cowboy Poetry Collection helps the large cowboy poetry movement in the local community, greatly benefitting the annual cowboy poetry gatherings across the western states.  Archives involvement in events and festivals, such as the cowboy poetry gatherings, is a great way to spread awareness and community involvement, as the archives become personal to members of the community.

With archives being repositories for information, outreach is less common, but through a creative partnering, such as seen by these earlier examples, both the archives and the community can be improved and developed; especially in creating community identity and unity, such as recognizing and supporting the large Filipino population of LA, or the cowboy heritage of the western states.  Locally this could be implemented through promoting the local history of a community through the schools or museums, using the archives to supplement any events or exhibitions.

What partnerships between archives and community organizations could help with trending issues today?  Are there possibilities outside a university setting?

BYU Museum of Art. (2013, November 14). The Weir Family, 1820-1920: Expanding the Traditions of American Art. Retrieved from

BYU HBLL Digital Collections. (2013, November 14). Weir Family Papers & Photographs.  Retrieved from

Vallier, John (2010, September).  Sound Archiving Close to Home: Why Community Partnerships Matter. Notes,  67(1), 39-49.

Williams, Randy. (2004, January 1). Extending the Archives: Partnering and Outreach at the Fife Folklore Archives. Folklore Forum, 24(1/2), 51-65.

Areas for School Library Partnerships

There are three main areas for developing school library partnerships. Most partnerships offer support in sustaining or enhancing school budgets for library resources. The resources needed for the school library must be identified. After the needs have been identified, the appropriate community supporters can be approached. For limited financial support, grants and donations are available. Local community foundations or businesses can provide funding for the libraries. Target Department Stores, Walmart and Loew’s Supply Stores are examples of businesses that offer grants for school libraries. For the Walmart grants, the school library must be within a ten mile radius of the store. Target stores provide funding for the renovation of facilities and books. Loew’s provides for materials to store collections and materials for beautification projects. Local businesses are eager to support school libraries. The advantage of using grant funds is that the resources remain at the school level.

Another area involves using volunteers effectively. Volunteer pools can be created from parents, community service groups and service learning sectors in businesses, colleges and universities or community agencies. School boards and public library trustees, advocates and foundations can join partnerships to share staff and volunteers in creative ways.

The third area is innovative projects with public or academic libraries or groups within the local community. An excellent example of this practice is the partnership of the Kalamazoo Public Schools and the Kalamazoo Public Library to provide all first grade students with a public library card.

In your opinion, which area offers the most potential?

Reed, Sally. Amalgamating for Advocacy. American Libraries. Volume 40 Number 3 March 2009 Chicago: IL.

Rogers, Lelia. No Budget? Build a Community of Library Supporters! Library Media Connection. Volume 32. Number 2. p. 22.

Solutions and Services. American Libraries. March 2009

Learning about School Libraries

A great source to learn about school libraries in general is the School Library Monthly magazine. For thirty years this source has provided content for school librarians regarding major issues. This year, the editors will post articles from archived issues under “What’s New” on their website: to present perspectives on how school libraries have changed over time.

What is your best impression or memory about a school library?

School Library Monthly, Volume 30 Number 1 September-October 2013