As I was reading through my email this past week I was extremely interested to see a report entitle Building a Bridge to Literacy for African-American Male Youth: A Call to Action for the Library Community from the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the School of Library and Information Science at North Carolina Central University.
This report offers recommendations for addressing the achievement gap for African-American Males in this country and serves as a call to action for libraries of all types.
What resonated with me was the call for collaboration between school libraries, public libraries, and other community organizations. I frequently read and hear about the lack of collaboration between school libraries and public libraries. Yet, just as this report discusses, think of the powerful partnerships that can be formed that can benefit all students, not just those at risk.
In times of budget cuts collections have suffered and sometimes the cultural representation that should be present in a collection is not. This presents an opportunity to work with your public library – they may have resources that you don’t have and when you pool your resources together you can offer more to your students. This report describes the enabling texts that are needed to reach out to African American males. Working on building collections that include these type of materials could be a joint effort initiative between the school librarian and the public librarian.
When I opened a new school library I found the public library to be a great partner. After meeting with teachers and learning the curriculum I could keep up with what topics were coming up and then work with the local public librarian to help me gather and borrow materials to support these curricular areas. Then in return I worked with them to develop and promote various programs to support and benefit students.
Also mentioned in this report is collaboration with community organizations and partners to offer experiences to your students. This report talks of working with different civic organizations to foster community relations and provide real-world authentic learning experiences. This may be working with like-minded organizations to set up programs that can foster literacy engagement out in the community for those students who may not always be able to get to the library.
I think all too often we as school librarians solely focus on collaborating with teachers and some times forget about other possible partnerships. I believe these types of collaborations that go beyond the school walls benefit and provide valuable support for all students.