|"Time for Lunch," by Finn Frode|
I've been having lunch about once a month with a few local public library administrators. It started out just me and the director of my city's public library, then we ran into the county librarian at that restaurant another time, and now the assistant director of my city's public library is coming along as well.
There are a number of reasons why I'm excited about this:
- It's a simple but effective way for me to contribute to bettering the town-gown relationship - which is one of our stated goals in my college's recent strategic plan. (This is common in higher ed, but is especially important for small schools like mine.)
- Our jobs are much more similar than you'd think. I work to further integrate information literacy into the curriculum while they work to make sure storytime has some educational substance and not just flash. I work with my school's administrators to best use our financial resources, and they work with city/county/state officials. Heck, our staffs even overlap (one of my library associates also works at the county library and another also works at the city library).
- We also have a fair amount of overlap in the constituencies we serve. Set aside the fact that we're in the same consortium, there's also the fact that we have plenty of students who grew up in the local area. Add to that how many of our faculty live in this county and it's clear we have overlapping missions as well.
I don't know if these kinds of relationships are possible in bigger cities and/or at bigger schools, but it's got to be worth a look. We're starting to talk about small scale partnership plans, too. It's nice to think that we're doing something substantive as we chat over food at the local Indian restaurant, but if nothing else: it's nice to have conversations with peers who understand what my job is like.