Strengthening Collaborations in a Joint-Use Library

I oversee library operations at a community college with 5 campuses spanning 3 counties. Scenic drives up CA 395 are routine. I paid a recent visit to the site farthest from the main campus—a joint use public/college library that hasn’t really found its collaborative footing. Beyond contributing to the construction of the building years ago, the college has had limited involvement with the facility. A small academic reference collection was purchased and integrated into the Dewey-classed stacks. The small “college room”, intended for use by the college, is being used by the library for community events.
The actual campus (and accompanying dorms!) is a ¼ mile walk from the library. While this doesn’t seem like a substantial access barrier, students and faculty are rarely lured to use the library as part of their teaching and learning. The main college library subscribes to plenty of eResources that the students and faculty choose to use instead of print resources at the joint-use library. Staffing is an issue, as well; an adjunct librarian works 4-8 hours per week…but not at the joint-use library. She spends her time on campus providing library instruction to classes and answering reference questions at the computer lab, which is where students congregate to work on their homework.
So: what to do? How can the college collaborate more effectively and dynamically with the public library? How can and should the college “stake its claim” in the joint-use facility they invested in? That is what my visit was about.
I met with the library director and we discussed a section of the joint use agreement that requires signage for the library to include the name of the college, which it does not yet. We quickly came to a consensus on signage, which will hopefully go up in the next few months. Once the library gets branded with its new joint-use name, all publicity, fliers, and the website will reflect the new name. Small steps, but in the right direction!
One more thing we discussed was collection and program development. I had just read an article by David Lewis (2013) in C&RL titled “From Stacks to the Web: The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting” ( about the future of academic library collection building and one of the tips was to cut way down on purchasing print and to build unique print collections. A-ha! This area is known for its scenic mountain landscapes and adventure sports like rock-climbing, hiking, endurance running, fishing, and skiing. Artists glorify the landscape through painting and photography. There is a long legacy of mule-packing, taming the “wild-west”, prospecting. There is also a rich Native American Paiute history. Books and films have been produced about the scramble for water rights in the 1920s—the birth of the LA Aqueduct, which changed the area in transformative ways. This is a unique area worthy of a unique special print collection.
So that’s our next step in terms of collection development—one that will allow the public and academic libraries to collaborate together. Maybe it will lead to some cool programming.
What are your ideas for joint-use collaborations?


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