July 2, 2010

ALA 2010 Round-Up Part 2: The Requirements

I have a mini-project at work to document partnerships between public libraries and transit agencies. Both are facing devastating challenges in the face of depleted tax revenues and precarious federal funding, and in many communities they serve the same customers and are trying to better serve special populations.

I started this project because I felt I was hearing the same advice being given to library leaders and transit leaders at various conferences and meetings I attended: "Reach out! Get creative! Join your local Chamber of Commerce! Partner with other community agencies!" I was hearing this in particular from the employment transportation side of our work, and it resonated with me as a librarian because of all the recent discussions on libraries as de facto career development centers, as well as doing literacy and ESL classes and outreach.

As part of getting this project started, I attended a great session at ALA called Outreach 24/7. Not only did I take courage and make an announcement about my project so people could contact me...one of the speakers mentioned outreach to transit agencies! (I was so excited.) The Schaumburg Township District Library in Illinois puts donated paper backs in local Metra stations with stickers that say "Brought to you by your library," and they are looking for other ways to reach out to commuters. This may be a small start, but the library leaders had to make contact with the transit leaders to get this to happen, so a relationship is forming.

I am collecting any and all examples of library-transit partnerships, even if it's as simple as a "Ride the bus to the library" or "Read on the bus" campaign, or a library that has found a creative way to display transit information, or a reference desk that helps patrons understand their local community services, including transportation. If you hear of anything, be sure to let me know!

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