Collaborating is great! Sometimes the best collaborators are your fellow library workers. When I started at Windsor Park Library in Queens, New York, I remember a neighboring librarian, coming to my library to present a program on life in the 1970s. She dressed in clothes from the period, brought in candy, played psychedelic music, and did a trivia contest. A lot of adults and kids showed up. I made a mental note that it was cool that someone from another library could come in and do a program for us.
When I worked as manager at the Seaside Library, in Queens, I collaborated with Matthew Allison, manager of the Peninsula Library. Together we put on the first ever “Rockaway Author Expo.” We pooled our resources and our contact list to create an event that brought local authors and readers together. We had Queens author and fellow librarian Tejas Desai come in. So we had librarians from three different libraries involved in different ways – two as organizers and one as a participant. Another example of a collaboration is when Robert Wilson, assistant manager of the Far Rockaway library at the time, came over to do an Elvis performance for the patrons at Seaside. It was a rocking good time, and we had one patron even dress up as Elvis himself dancing throughout Wilson’s show. He was a burning hunk of collaboration!
My current library is South Hollis Library in Queens, where I work as a manager. Recently we did a Holiday Brunch for the veterans who live across the street from the library. We partnered with a local organization to bring food and refreshments. However, what really stood out during our Holiday Brunch is that we had Nancy Almatare, customer service specialist from the Langston Hughes Library come to South Hollis for the event. She performed belly dancing and did henna hand art. The veterans said it was the most unique and enjoyable holiday brunch they’ve ever experienced.
The biggest collaboration I was a part of was the recent Haitian Arts Festival. I remember having lunch in early 2016 at the Urban Librarians Conference in Brooklyn with fellow New York librarians, Sharon Banks, Cambria Heights manager, and Reginald St. Fort, then Assistant Manager at St. Albans. After lunch, we decided to collaborate to put on a Haitian Arts Festival at our libraries, all of which had a significant Haitian community. This eventually became a library collaboration among four New York libraries: Cambria Heights, St. Albans, Rochdale Village, and South Hollis. Not only that but we had different departments at the Queens Central Library helping us as well as the Friends groups from our four libraries. It was one Mega-Collaboration! We had regular weekly meetings and we pooled our resources and skills to make it happen. All the participating libraries had great art hanging on their walls. The art was also a fundraiser for the library so it was win-win. I had a great time working with so many different people, and meeting new library personnel.
I think because of our profession in public service, many of us tend to be modest. But be proud of who you are, your interests, and all the things you know. If you organize a great program at your library, there might be another library where it will also be a hit. Don’t limit yourself to one library! Don’t just share your books with others, share your uniqueness and yourself!