Mindful partnership building — a SXSWEdu recap

rosebaumIn their SXSWEdu core conversation Schools and Libraries Together:  Rethinking Learning, Skokie Librarian Amy Koester and Graphic designer Vanessa Rosenbaum led the audience in a discussion of how to build richer partnerships between public and school libraries.

While we might normally exchange booklists, Koester and Rosenbaum urged us to consider deeper sorts of collaborations which impact our community more effectively.   However, to begin collaborative work, we have to be open to the idea that we don’t necessarily know where we are going, but that we will learn that through opening up dialogue.

They suggested Design Thinking or the Harwood methodologies might offer opportunities for conversation, suggesting that we start with larger questions like “How do you want to impact your community?”

Questions could be asked at a face-to-face meeting, or even posed in advance of the meeting to give staff time for contemplation.

A sample starter question might be:

engageHow might we _____________________? and then, How might we get there together?

Another way to open up communication might be with a structured dialogue, where one person talks for two minutes about their goals for their community, while the other just listens, and vice versa.  Then both the public and school library staff can see where their community goals might align, perhaps with a third party transcribing what was said.    Koester wisely suggests that the opportunities that arise will be much more impactful than just asking if we could bring “a pre-made” program into the school (or public) library.

They made it clear how our partnerships could help magnify our impact in the community(two heads are better than one).   Skokie Library has created a well designed toolkit for teachers that offers an example of how public libraries can reach out directly to school faculty.   But Rosenbaum and Koester made it evident that the most fertile opportunities lie in creating things together that best address our shared community needs.

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