Community partnerships can help to solidify your library’s standing as a figure in the community, but can also help to bring new experiences to your patrons. Many of us are looking towards schools and parks to find our community partners, but there is so much more out there! Recently, I’ve been looking at unconventional resources to improve STEM programming at our libraries and in our outreach. Here are two that have proven interesting:
My library is located in the Greater Cincinnati area. Cincinnati has several organizations committed to helping bring STEM experiences to students. I’ve recently been attending their meetings, and have found out about several new projects in the area, and have been networking with those in the Collaborative. Those in attendance are people working with museums, schools, and local companies committed to extending their services for STEM activities. Showing your library’s commitment to STEM opportunities can help to convince other organizations to look to you as a partner in new opportunities or grants. The Cincinnati STEM Collaborative also offers a STEM training for those working with students in grades K-12, which could also provide insight into new STEM programming ideas or ways to collaborate with the schools in your area. It’s definitely worth finding out if your community has a STEM Collaborative.
Meetup is website and app, that allows people in an area to create groups and meet in real life. All you have to do is search by your city, and the site will list the groups in your area. Once you create a log-in, Meetup will also help narrow down what groups you might be interested in joining. When you join a group, you will receive notifications for upcoming meetings, and you are able to message other members or post to their forums. The site has an easy search function (I suggest keywords like “maker”, “coding”, and “science” to start). In my area, I’ve already joined a group committed to teaching women how to computer program (Girls Develop It) and a maker group, for those interested in maker spaces. By joining these groups and attending meetings, you are creating new opportunities to introduce the library as a willing partner in STEM for the community. You may also find new organizations willing to take their talents to the library.
I have found both of these organizations extremely helpful, and have made great contacts for future programming and partnerships. See what else is out their in your community, and feel free to offer other great partnership tips in the comments.