Many libraries already have relationships with community organizations and networks of groups working on issues relating to new Americans. Community organizations have different types of expertise, hold specific knowledge about the community, and may have a different relationship to their members. At the same time, community organizations already find that collaboration with municipal organizations — including libraries — is a great way to work with professionals who share the same dedication to helping community members realize their goals. Understanding how community organizations work with new Americans can help libraries avoid reinventing the wheel and instead focus on how they might complement existing work with space, curriculum, technology, books, and more.
Partnerships can take many forms, consisting of a single event, recurring event or series, a class, or a long-term initiative. Having recurring events or building a sustained initiative can lead to a stronger relationship. This work can then help foster an increased commitment to serve new American communities and reduce gaps in services.
Suggested Action Steps
- Make a list of the organizations, networks, or groups in your community who already serve new Americans. How does your library fit in?
- List the additional resources the library needs to better serve new Americans. Which community partners would be best positioned to assist in this effort?
- Make a detailed plan for connecting. Is there a clear ask? Mutual benefits that could be highlighted? A plan for nurturing the relationship? Intended outcomes for new Americans? Who is serving as the contact person? What is the decision-making hierarchy, or who needs to give approval?
- Librarians as Community Partners: An Outreach Handbook by Carol Smallwood
- Implementing Community Change: Positive and Productive Partnerships
- WebJunction Outreach Action Plan Template
- Partnerships: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
- Partnering with Academic Institutions for Health and Wellness Programming
- Libraries and Nonprofits: Making the Case