Six Great Ideas for Library Partnerships

 In Foundations, Friends, Fundraising, Strategic Planning

Partnerships have great potential to expand your library’s capacity to offer more, reach broader audiences, and leverage your resources. As libraries continually seek new ways to stretch their budgets, partnering is a valuable option to consider.

There are several natural partnerships that many libraries have formed:

1) Literacy Partnerships. Partner with your local literacy organization – be it a children’s literacy program or adult program. These organizations are on the frontline, bringing critical services to your community. They are ripe for partnerships to reach a broad audience (including many non-users) with resources the library has to offer. This is a partnership that can have a huge impact on your community at minimal cost to either organization.

2) Nonprofit Partnerships. Does your community have local music or theater groups? Is there a genealogical society in your city? A food co-op? History society? Museum? A writer’s group? Human rights organization? These organizations can easily provide programs in your library that draw audiences of all ages and interests and stretch the resources of all partners (for specific examples of joint programming, visit: https://thefriends.org/events/ongoing-series/).

3) Age-Appropriate Partners. Trivia groups are hotter than ever and so are targeted book groups. Consider co-sponsoring trivia nights or book clubs in a bar or restaurant to attract millennials to your library programs. (https://thefriends.org/events/ongoing-series/books-bars/)

4) Partners with a Purpose. Many individuals are finding new ways and new places to work. Partner with your local Small Business Association to offer classes on starting a new business, developing business skills, creating a business cooperative, and more.

5) Business/Corporate Partnerships. Local businesses or national corporations love partnerships. If you look for the win/win opportunity for your library and a potential business, it’s a great opportunity for a valuable partnership. For example, many libraries reach out to corporate sponsors to fund their bookmobiles, offering the opportunity to “wrap” the bookmobile with a business’ logo and branding.

6) DIY Workshops. Building on the idea of business partnerships, lots of libraries are offering Saturday DIY (Do It Yourself) classes on everything from growing seed gardens (sponsored by a local nursery) – to learning to knit (sponsored by a knitting supply store) to bicycle repair (provided by a bike shop). These classes offer practical skills and allow local businesses to strut their stuff while being good community partners.

These are just a few partnership ideas… the possibilities are pretty limitless. If you’d like to begin to build community partnerships, do some brainstorming with your library staff or your support organization (Friends and foundation) for potential capacity building and resource leveraging partnerships.

One side benefit to partnerships is that community foundations and other funders particularly like these relationships as they see that your library is being savvy and resourceful in working in the community and maximizing funding!

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