Partnerships and Collaborations Course

Introduction and Overview

Welcome to Partnerships and Collaborations, the third course in the Transforming Life After 50 (TLA50) Fellowship series, with instructor Stephen Ristau. For the webinar offered in this course, see Week 2.

As a result of this course, you will be able to:

  • Define what collaborations and partnerships are, and explain their strategic purposes. Explain how they differ from cooperative and coordinated relationships.
  • Understand and utilize the mutual advantages of partnerships.
  • List the factors that are essential to successful collaborations and partnerships and use these in developing collaborations and partnerships.
  • Identify the types of partners and collaborators that will support success in TLA50 programs and engagement strategies.
  • Assess your library’s readiness for collaborations and partnerships. As a result of this assessment, identify steps to improve readiness or enhance future collaborations and partnerships.
  • Target strategic collaborators and partners that will increase your library’s effectiveness in serving and engaging midlife adults 50+.

WEEK 1: Laying the Foundation

Collaboration and partnership will be defined and contrasted.  The strategic purposes of collaboration and what makes successful, win-win partnerships will also be explored.

Reading 1: The Partnership Continuum (pdf)
Week 1 Assignment Options
Option 1: Partnership Continuum (required)
1. Download: Partnership Continuum Handout (pdf) and brainstorm (with colleagues at your library) a list of potential partners for your TLA50 project. Assess whether the potential partners fit the definitions of cooperative, coordinated, or collaborative. Indicate the assets that could be gained from the partnerships. 

2. Once you’ve completed the Partnership Continuum form, respond to these questions:

  • What are your library's current experiences with partnerships and collaborations?
  • What did you learn about your library’s partnerships as a result of the continuum?
  • Would you characterize them as strategic? Sustainable?
  • What assets do you gain from the partnerships you listed?
  • What moves a partnership into the realm of a strategic partnership?

Option 2: Community Building (optional)
Read:  Four Keys to Collaboration Success and The Engaged Library: Chicago Stories of Community Building (pdf).
Once you’ve completed reading these articles, describe the keys to your own library's success at collaboration and/or describe your own experience of engagement with your community. What have you learned from your own experiences in building community?

WEEK 2: Internal and External Assessment

Assessing your library's readiness for partnerships and collaborations will be discussed.  Types of partners and collaborators that will support successful TLA50 strategies will also be identified.

Watch: Archived Recording of Course Webinar

Webinar Handouts
Webinar PowerPoint Slides (ppt)
Webinar Links (pdf)

Reading 2: Readiness for Strategic Partnerships (pdf)
Week 2 Assignment Options
Option 1: Library Readiness Scale for Collaboration and Partnership (required)
1. Download: Library Readiness Scale (pdf) and complete. Score and discuss your results with colleagues in your library.
2. Then answer these questions:

  • What did you learn about your library’s readiness to engage in partnerships? How did this confirm what you already know? Did it surprise you?
  • Where are the areas of strength? Where are the areas for improvement?

Option 2: Potential Partners (optional)
1. Download: Master List of Associations (pdf) and review.  Do you see any new potential partners on this list for your own TLA50 efforts?
2. Incorporate these new potential partners into the Partnership Continuum that you did Week 1. (If you have not yet filled it out, download it now. Otherwise, use your completed version from last week.)
Download, if necessary: Partnership Continuum (pdf)
3. Tell us about the new potential partners you identified. What assets could be gained from these new collaborations?

Option 3: Partners for the Future (optional)
1. Read: Partners for the Future: Public Libraries and Local Governments Creating Sustainable Communities (pdf).
2. Now, answer these questions:

  • What is your library doing to sustain economic vitality, environmental quality, and social equity in your community? How can you influence your local government to make these issues actionable priorities?
  • How can partnerships between your library and local government build a more sustainable community?
  • Which specific department(s) in your local government are potential strategic partners as your library expands services to midlife adults and promotes engagement around the issues that matter most to them?

WEEK 3: Targeting Partners and Collaborators

This week effective approaches and tips for transparent communication will be addressed.  The "care and feeding" of partnerships as well as the characteristics of successful partnerships and collaborations, along with specific examples, will be shared.

Reading 3: Getting the Results You're After (pdf)
Week 3 Assignment Options
Option 1: Identifying Key (Strategic) Partners (required)
1. Download: Identifying Key (Strategic) Partners Worksheet (doc) and complete.
2. Answer these questions/address these issues:

  • List two partners you’ve identified as key or strategic in meeting your TLA50 goals.
  • How did you identify them?
  • What assets do they bring to your efforts?
  • How will you know that these collaborations are successful?

Option 2: Listen to Interview with Cindy Bonaro, Pierce County Library (optional)
1. Listen to the interview by clicking the link below. It will open in a new window. Since it's a fairly large mp3 file, it may take a minute or two to load. Be patient. Interview with Cindy Bonaro (mp3, 27 minutes)

About Cindy Bonaro: Ms. Bonaro has worked for Pierce County Library System in Tacoma, WA for 27 years in a variety of positions, including managing librarian and outreach coordinator. She was a 2006 Fellow in the Lifelong Access Libraries Institute, which inspired her to take a leadership role in serving and engaging mid-life adults in Pierce County. Partnerships and collaborations have been key to her efforts. Along with her staff team, she formed an advisory council that met monthly to network and share insights into services provided and challenges encountered in reaching the 50+ population. The council included organizations such as the YMCA, SCORE, Aging and Long Term Care, Multicare and Franciscan Health Systems and Clover Park Technical College. The council took an active role in planning two very successful community-wide outreach efforts. Most recently she has joined with other local organizations to assist 50+ job seekers. AARP, Clover Park Technical College and the South Sound Regional Incubator participated in such an event in March 2011.

2. Reflect on the following questions:

  • How do the partnerships and collaborations that Cindy describes reinforce the ideas that we have explored in this course?
  • What did you think of Cindy's description about how partnerships opened up new avenues and opportunities for the library?
  • Where do you see avenues and opportunities opening up for your library, especially for your TLA50 initiatives?

Option 3: Collaborations — Nimble or Cumbersome? (optional)
1. Read: How to "Nimble-ize" a Collaboration
2. Reflect on these questions:

  • What does being "nimble" at collaboration mean to you?
  • What skills and attitudes do you and your library have that make you "nimble"?
  • "Collaborations are usually impermanent" is listed in the reading as one of the "Ten Principles of Resilience." Describe your understanding of this principle.

What to Do Next: Congratulations! You've completed the work for this course.  If you're interested, check out the other IMLS Fellowship online courses