MyLibraryNYC Brings City Schools and Libraries Together
Submitted by Asia Bonacci.
In the current economic climate, school and public libraries alike have been encouraged to “do more with less,” making sustainability in programming and initiatives more important than ever. MyLibraryNYC—a partnership between NYC Department of Education and New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Library—is a great example of public library systems working together with school libraries to expand resources available to students and teachers. MyLibraryNYC is now in its fifth year, and while the program started with a large grant from CitiBank, it is through the hard work of program staffers and partners that it has been made sustainable in the long-term.
MyLibraryNYC currently serves 500 schools in the city—almost a third of the total number of schools—and its core services are:
In an effort to be sustainable, the program has had to evolve over time. Program Manager Amie Wright says that the major changes that MyLibraryNYC has undergone stemmed from a desire to be seen as a complement to NYC school curricula while leveraging library promotion, outreach, and collaboration opportunities. When thinking about long-term sustainability, it became clear that some portions of the program needed to be cut in order to focus on core services. For instance, originally, MyLibraryNYC printed its own cards, but now, existing NYPL cards are “upgraded” to the collaborative program. Another change to the program was a move away from individual inter-library loan requests toward the loaning of Teacher Sets, which are mobile, floating collections based on teachers’ curriculum needs. Additionally, the program now loans book-club kit-style groups of titles to teachers needing extra copies for their classroom, instead of classroom kits of 30+ books; smaller sets in this case meant greater protection from loss by the loaning libraries but also reflected a response to what teachers actually needed and wanted.
Overall, the MyLibraryNYC program has also served as a way for the librarians involved to hone their outreach and customer service skills. Wright has given presentations on handling outreach and the importance of involving stakeholders, maintaining ongoing contact, and consistent messaging. Above all, perhaps, is establishing strong partnerships to ensure sustainability. “We could not have done this alone,” Wright said, in an email. “Our partners at the DOE [Department of Education] and Brooklyn and Queens have been amazing!” Fore more info visit http://www.mylibrarynyc.org/ or contact Program Manager Amie Wright.
The Sustainability Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights community-driven, environmentally sound, and economically responsible programs and projects in libraries and other organizations. You can find more projects in the Sustainability Spotlight Archive or visit NYLA's Sustainability Initiative to learn more about how you can get started with sustainability in your library.