Diversity & Outreach Columns ALA's Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services


Builders and Books: A Collaboration between Ericson Public Library and Habitat for Humanity

Submitted by Zach Stier, MSLIS, M.SEd.
Children's Librarian, Ericson Public Library, Boone, Iowa

Ericson Public Library, Boone, IA

The Ericson Public Library has always had a role to unify its community by forming partnerships. The Children’s Department current partnerships focus on early literacy and school readiness by visiting preschools and daycares on a monthly basis. Currently, the department provides twenty-four outreach programs for children in addition to regular library programming monthly. These outreach visits allows for additional children within the community the opportunity to experience and be engaged in library programming.  The goal is to enhance their learning through the power of storytelling. In addition, the department attends local family events in the community to make adults and parents aware of all library services and to encourage them to use the library.

Our partnerships are being enhanced by connecting with local organizations that may not have a literacy focus but have family engagement as a foundation to their cause. Our newest partner is Habitat for Humanity for Boone and Greene Counties.  This is a short story on how we began this exciting and valuable partnership.

Fall 2013: The Partnership Forms

Just before Thanksgiving of 2013, I drove around the Boone community looking for my next community partnership. In my mind, I was looking for a place where we could provide a family a set of books to begin their reading journey together. Understanding community makeup is an important assessment tool that assists me in locating a partner.

As I drove down “Story Street” I noticed the Habitat for Humanity office. At that moment, I knew that they would be our next partnership venture. The next day, I contacted the Director to setup a
meeting to go over the logistics of the partnership. By the end of the meeting, we agreed that the family would be provided a bookcase from Habitat and the library would supply the family books. In addition, we also decided that we would host an event at the library for the family and invite the entire community.

Spring 2014: Builders and Books

We entitled our partnership, Builders and Books to encompass Habitat’s role in building a home for a family and the library’s role to enhance literacy. On March 29th, the library hosted an event for the family. This event included a storytime craft, and a construction zone. The construction zone was coordinated by Habitat and included the following activities: an area to learn how to sand using bird houses, an area to learn about different tools, a drawing area to learn about housing plans, an area to sign a 2X4 that is added to the house being built, and an area to learn about plumbing. On March 30th the family had their groundbreaking.

We will continue to connect with the family as the house is being built and in October we will provide them books to add to their bookcase.


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