Policy on Cooperation between Public Libraries and School Libraries

Background

Since 1890, the Board of Library Commissioners has been statutorily charged with the responsibility for developing and improving public library services to the residents of the Commonwealth. Since 1965 the Board has also been charged with the responsibility for programs which support resource sharing and electronic networking among Massachusetts libraries of all types. In 1997, the Governor and Legislature authorized the Board to establish six Regional Library Systems open to membership by academic, public, school and special libraries and providing services to all types of member libraries.

The Board of Library Commissioners has statutory authority to establish minimum standards for public libraries receiving State Aid to Public Libraries pursuant to M.G.L. 78:19A&B. It also has authority to establish eligibility requirements for public and school libraries participating in Regional Library Systems established pursuant to M.G.L.78:19C and for public and school libraries receiving federal grant funds administered by the Board pursuant to M.G.L.78:19. The Board has no legal authority to establish standards for school libraries in the Commonwealth.

Policy

The Board of Library Commissioners is firmly committed to the necessity for each community to have municipally funded public library service. It is also committed to the necessity for each student to have access to a school library fully integrated into the instructional program of the school and staffed by a certified library media specialist.

The Board recognizes the fundamentally differing missions of public libraries and school libraries and endorses the Massachusetts School Library Association (MSLA)*/ Massachusetts Library Association (MLA) Joint Statement on School/Public Library Services to Children: A Common Purpose with Similarities and Differences and the MLA/ MSLA* Joint Statement on Collection Development in Schools and Public Libraries.

The Board of Library Commissioners supports and encourages communication, cooperation, coordination and collaboration between the public libraries in a community and the school library or libraries within a community in order to provide the best possible library service to every resident and to make most effective use of public and private funds dedicated to library services.

The goals of this cooperation are stated in the Vision of Ideal Cooperation Between Public Libraries and School Libraries and realized through the Nine Recommended Cooperative Activites to Achieve Cooperation between Public Libraries and School Libraries.

The Board provides direct support for cooperation between public libraries and school libraries at the community level through:

  • Direct advisory assistance, technical assistance and training for public libraries on effective cooperation at the community level,
  • A program of regional library systems which provide support for resource sharing, shared technology and other cooperative activities, consulting services and training to individual public and school libraries,
  • Grants to public and school libraries for cooperative projects.
  • The Board recognizes that close cooperation between public libraries and school libraries is essential to providing each community with the best possible library services. The Board also recognizes that cooperation cannot and should not serve as a substitute for adequate public library or school library service.

Vision of Ideal Cooperation between Public and School Libraries

Every community provides its residents with access to a free public library and every student has access to school library services fully integrated into the school's instructional program.

Every resident has access to the complete library and information resources of the community.

Citizens and municipal officials demand excellence in library services and provide adequate financial support to achieve these goals.

Municipal officials, public library trustees, directors and staff members, school committee members, school administrators and staff members understand that public libraries and school libraries have different missions but share certain goals and mutually support these respective missions and goals.

Every public library and every school library is a member of a Massachusetts Regional Library System.

Nine Recommended Activities to Achieve Cooperation Between Public Libraries and School Libraries

Each public library and school district has an appointed liaison with responsibility for communication and the development of cooperative programs and services.

Both public and school libraries have jointly developed goals and objectives for cooperation and collaboration as part of their individually developed long range plans.

Insofar as practical, public libraries and school libraries develop coordinated policies and procedures.

Public and school libraries'staff members participate in regularly scheduled meetings and communication about each other's activities and programs.

Every public library offers users access to the catalog of school libraries and every school library offers users access to the catalog of the public library.

Public and school libraries participate in Interlibrary Loan and Delivery to provide for the sharing of library materials.

Public and school libraries participate in cooperative purchasing and licensing programs.

Public library orientation sessions are held for school committee members, school administrators, teachers and library staff; and school library orientations are held for public library trustees and staff members.

Public and school library staff members participate in shared professional development activities.

*The Massachusetts School Library Media Association (MSLMA) has changed its name to Massachusetts School Library Association (MSLA).

Initial Policy Approval Date: March 4, 1999
Latest Policy Approval Date: September 10, 2009

Policy Expiration Date: September 10, 2010

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Page last updated on 11/12/2009