Literacy-Rich: Keeping an Eye On the Why, Together | Editorial

Collaboration. It’s common to consider, attempt, and refine, but it’s rarely on display as it was in Omaha last month. At a three-day event we focused on deep partnerships between public libraries and schools to increase access to materials for kids.

Collaboration. It’s common to consider, attempt, and refine, but it’s rarely on display as it was in Omaha last month. At a three-day event we focused on deep partnerships between public libraries and schools to increase access to materials for kids.

Collaboration was on everyone’s mind when more than 100 librarians, educators, and community stakeholders gathered in Nebraska’s largest city on May 10–12 to discuss how to foster more literacy-rich communities through alliances between public libraries and schools. Over a year in the making, the convening, which LJ and sister publication School Library Journal developed together with Omaha Public Schools and the Omaha Public Library, plumbed the intricacies of models for these deeper unions in four cities: Nashville, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Muncie, IN. The teams on-site from those locations (in photo) and the avid, engaged audience illustrated active collaboration unlike any I’d seen in play before. Their work is inspiring, complex, and, as the results are showing, effective.

We know the cost of illiteracy and how far we have to go to address the very real gap in our society. The challenge, and challenged resources, calls for a new kind of engagement with the problem. Existing institutions with literacy and learning in our missions have been compelled—by their own volition and external inspiration—to find new collaborators and stretch capacity by undertaking the issue together.

Together, in my opinion, means all together—all the institutions across a community. Yet, as library people, we have a key place to start thinking about this via these two essential anchors of our neighborhoods—public libraries and schools.

Despite divergent approaches, the cities involved in such partnerships strive toward a common goal: promoting literacy-rich communities through improved access to books and information in many formats. How do we ensure our existing institutions are evolving to help correct course on literacy development? Focus on it, create new coalitions to confront the realities in each local region, and break through barriers by inventing fresh approaches. Strategically collaborate to marshal resources, putting the goal above any obstacles of turf or fear of the unknown. Then take action.

Collaboration is also required when creating a new logo. Special thanks to LJ’s Design Director Kevin Henegan for taking the lead on our new logo, developed with input from the whole team. The new LJ, gracing the cover of the June 1, 2018 issue, is the first of more updates to come in print and online. Let us know what you think, and enjoy!

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