2.0 What is a Community Partnership?

In this section, you’ll learn how community partnerships can benefit the library, and how the library can in turn help partners achieve their goals. We’ll also discuss how community partnerships can be valuable elements of your strategy to promote connected learning in your library. 

After completing this section, you will be able to...

  • Describe the ways that partnerships can benefit libraries
  • Explain how libraries can benefit their partners
  • Recognize different levels of partnership

A community partnership is a formal relationship between a library and a local organization or individual who have joined forces on a project, program, or initiative that supports the goals of both entities. Unlike partnerships with national organizations, a community partnership is unique to the library and its local area.

Partnerships are not formed by simple client and contractor relationships. Although a partnership may involve payment and contracts, it is a deeper collaboration. Partners work with the library to develop a unique offering.

Is This a Good Partnership Opportunity? 

Answer these questions before launching a joint project.

  • Do we have a shared or complementary goal?
  • Will we achieve this goal more easily or more effectively together?
  • What can the library do that the partner cannot do (or cannot do as well)?
  • What can the partner do that the library cannot do (or cannot do as well)?
  • Does this partnership align with the library’s strategic plan? 
  • What resources are needed to achieve this goal? Who will provide them? 

Partnerships benefit the community, too

The community also benefits when libraries join forces with other organizations.

  • The combined resources and knowledge of the library and its partners can provide services and programs with greater impact.
  • When different organizations work together, they can reduce duplication and focus more efficiently on serving a wider audience, providing more options, or addressing a greater variety of needs.
  • Working together can enhance outreach for each organization, letting more people know about what they offer.