Public Library Partnership

Hi! I'm hoping this is the best group for this question. If not, please feel free to suggest a better one.

This semester, I will be holding GED class once a week at a local public library. My RESC is using this location as a site and I am employed by EASTCONN, not the library.

I am so excited about being at this location! My first class there is tonight and I've spoken on the phone to my contact person, who sounds excited as well. I know there are probably all kinds of great things I could do given this situation, but I'm so ideaed-out by the other things I'm working on, I am not thinking of them like I want to be. I would appreciate any and all examples of great things you all have done while teaching on-site or working with a public library.

Thank you!


Hi Shelly,

I hope your first class went well last night. Here are some suggestions, most of which you have probably already thought of.

1) Ask the library staff what programs/services/etc. they would like community members to know about. Use their flyers and other materials for lessons. Depending on where in the building you are, ask what their policies are about sound traveling. (My library is not quiet! But some are.) As you get to know the library, there may also be some tasks that your students could help with, e.g. design a Google Forms survey for library patrons. They may also have a display case where student projects can be displayed.

2) Help students get library cards as well as find and check out materials, not only for class but also for their children or their own enjoyment. Libraries generally like to see their circulation and membership stats go up.

3) Get a blueprint or map of the library and use this for geometry lessons (e.g. measure the teen room and find the area), scavenger hunt, find books on U.S. history, etc.

4) Ask staff from different departments from custodian to director to give little talks about their careers. A lot of people are surprised to find out that a lot of library staff are not librarians. It can be a good way to talk about career pathways.

5) Find out how the library fits into the political structure of your local area and tie that into civics. E.g. our library is municipal, which means that the mayor has direct oversight. Other libraries are set up differently and their funding is usually tied to that.

Hope something in here helps.

Thanks so much! Monday night was the first night of class at that location, and the first night of class we held in that town for at least six months, so I wasn't expecting students and didn't have any. However, I did get to answer half a dozen questions for one of the desk staff had about the GED test, which I loved doing.

Honestly, the only idea that you shared that I'd really thought of was the library card idea. Any students I have who are eligible for a library card in that town will have one. Now I have 100 ideas!

I have their board room for my classroom, so we can make noise. I'd asked to make sure I can send my students into the library for different projects. The librarian gave me a look, but I wanted to make sure.

I love the idea of getting involved with library projects. This library has a small Geneology / Town History room that is full of books and binders of things that I know only exist in that location and not online. There's even a microfilm reader in there. I suspect that that room has regulars - one person was using it on Monday. Maybe we could leave a sign in there asking if a regular patron would sit for an interview about what they're researching. I could do a year-long unit on just that room, to include some kind of public notice (shared with the library) that things do still exist on paper. Maybe we could write an article about our class or the GED for their newsletter!

I love the scavenger hunt idea. I think I want my (future) students to talk to the staff about why they choose to highlight certain things, like the Sidney Poitier book that was on the counter and the collection of medal winners in the children's section. 

Careers are always important to talk about, including a discussion about soft skills. Maybe they could talk about what they're looking for in a volunteer.

I am also definitely going to explore your fifth idea about how the library fits into the political structure. That probably never would have crossed my mind, but it's excellent. That could be an entire unit, too, or more! One town in CT has a library that's in a 200-year-old house. There was a fight to build a new library several years ago but it never went through. There is a new librarian there now and this person has made several changes and is very active on social media. I know there's a story there. The idea of a library has so many connections to ADA, politics, economics, history, and a book I read recently, "The Personal Librarian." 

Thanks again for sharing so many ideas! Each one gave me so many more!

Hi, Shelly! Thank you for introducing such a great topic to the T&L group! Thanks, Lisa, for you outstanding ideas as well!

One thing done by the program in my area is the adult education center coordinates with the children/youth librarians to offer events for children at the same time as the adult classes. This not only helps adults with childcare issues but also sometimes opens doors for PACT (parent and child together) time, as desired by the program.

Best of luck as you begin!

T&L Moderator

Another idea I hadn't thought of! This is a great group.

My class is 5:30 - 7:30 at night, but I'll put this on my list of things to chat with them about. I wandered around the library when I was there and I think someone was in the children's librarian's office when I went by, so maybe that person would be available to speak to me at some point. This also makes me wonder if there are library events that I could pop into to invite people to my class!