March 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

School and Public Libraries Collaborate to Help Teen Community: Reports from the Field

In big and small ways, collaboration is a way of life for many school and public libraries. From teen book festivals to maker space initiatives, school and public libraries are teaming up to bring new services and programs to their young adults. Below are stellar examples of librarians working together to meet the needs of their communities.

Are you collaborating with your school/public library counterpart? Tells us how in the comments section.

LitWorks: A teen book festival

litworks_2014_logoNow in its sixth year, Litworks is a cooperative project between Eisenhower Public Library District (EPLD) and Ridgewood (IL) High School. The library brings in six authors (past years have included Jack Gantos, Jennifer E. Smith, Ann Angel, Marie Lu, Todd Strasser, Brent Crawford, Ron Koertge and a host of others) for an all-day celebration of books. The event is free for teens, five dollars for adults, and includes snacks and pizza. Attendees meet the authors in an open panel and then join one of three small 45-minute breakout sessions. The day concludes with a giant autograph party. The event is supported by the public and school library, the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, local banks and businesses, the Parents’ Club of Ridgewood, the Friends of the Library of Eisenhower, and area schools. EPLD also supports the school library by keeping the high school summer reading books as well as the Illinois High School Choice Award books.—Penny Blubaugh, Eisenhower Public Library, IL

Sharing collections and expanding services

ida ruppThe Ida Rupp Public Library in Port Clinton, OH works with the two school districts in its area: Port Clinton City and Danbury Local School Districts. The public library allows the schools to have a school library card to order interlibrary loan books for students and teachers and then delivers the orders.  They send their children’s and young adult librarians to the districts each week to read stories to students, teach library skills, and work with the faculty by bringing reading and audio/video materials to supplement the curriculum. Lastly, and most amazingly, the Ida Rupp Library recognized the needs of its community and has plans to create a new branch library in the Danbury School District area to serve the population of this peninsula and a connected island on Lake Erie.—Lorrie Halblaub, Danbury School District

Supporting curriculum and enriching the student experience

From March 2014 through October 2014, Team FATE, three librarians from Evanston/Skokie (IL) School District 65 (Tracy Hubbard, Patricia Connolly, Kefira Philippe) and two librarians from the Evanston Public Library (Laura Antolin and Renee Neumeier) participated in ILEADUSA through the Illinois State Library. The project was designed to establish formal collaboration and communication between the two library communities, which share the same goals—to provide enriching experiences to students. Team FATE hoped to reach and engage more students and develop strategies that would involve students who are not typical library users.

EPL logoAs a result of this project, the Evanston Public Library has launched teacher checkout for over 300 staff members in Evanston/Skokie School District 65. Evanston Public Library staff has also provided professional development to the 15 librarians in Evanston/Skokie School District 65, and these librarians have begun incorporating maker spaces and projects into their curriculum. The team will continue to offer joint professional development, collaborate on projects and programming, and further investigate shared resources.—Kefira Phillipe, Nichols Middle School, Evanston, IL

Are you collaborating with your school/public library counterpart? Tells us how in the comments section.

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Empowering Teens: Fostering the Next Generation of Advocates
Teens want to make a difference and become advocates for the things they care about. Librarians working with young people are in a unique position to help them make an impact on their communities and schools. Ignite your thinking and fuel these efforts at your library through this Library Journal online course—April 24 & May 8.
Building Literacy-Rich Communities
Hosted by Library Journal and School Library JournalStronger Together is a national gathering of thought leaders and innovators from across the country who will share where and how partnerships between school districts and public libraries are having success. Join us May 10–12 at the University of Nebraska Omaha, as we explore the impact these collaborations are having on the institutions, communities, and kids they serve.


  1. Debbie VanZandt says:

    A group of school and public librarians (8 school districts and 3 public library systems) are working together in the Corpus Christi Bay Area of Texas to bring Teen Bookfest by the Bay to life. The first annual event will take place on February 28, 2015 with 16 authors. It will be a free event.