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Collaboration: Networking and Coalition Building

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The goal to focus on when cooperating with one or more agencies or organizations is reaching unserved audiences. The goal of most non-profit and tax-supported agencies and organizations is to effectively and efficiently serve their target audience. Lack of funding, staff, and other resources often create obstructions to this goal. Agencies and organizations that network find new ways, such as sharing meeting space and mailing lists and promoting each other’s programs and services, to stretch resources and reach new audiences.

To reach baby boomers, an excellent place to begin any cooperation effort is with the Montana office of AARP.  Montana AARP has also partnered with the Montana State Library and the Montana Library Association to help promote Montana libraries to its members.  Montana AARP also already has relationships with many organizations and agencies that serve baby boomers.  Call the Montana AARP office to find a contact in your local community and to learn more about the programs and services they offer baby boomers. Educate your local AARP representatives about the services and materials your library has available that may benefit AARP, its members, and other agencies and organizations.  Ask if a coalition of agencies and organizations serving baby boomers already exists in your area. If one does, request an invitation to speak to the membership about the library and information regarding coalition membership.

If a coalition or network of agencies and organizations that target baby boomers does not exist, consider taking a leadership role and developing one. Contact leaders in the areas of retirement and money management, travel, healthcare, education, and entertainment and invite them to an open house and sharing session at the library. Think beyond the scope of the traditional information partners. Look at organizations that also provide lifelong learning opportunities, such as museums, botanical gardens, and social clubs. Telephone the key person at each agency and organization and invite them personally to a group meeting or open house. Be prepared to distribute library literature and share information about library services, resources, and programs at the meeting. Promote the availability of library meeting space, technology, the expertise of library staff, existing audiences and other, less “tangible,” resources the library can offer these various community resources.

Find out as much as you can about the organizations. If the group of organizations is numerous, you may develop a program schedule that will allow each agency representative to make a short presentation describing the services and goals of his or her agency. The coalition can be an informal, monthly gathering of agency and organizations staffs who meet to share information about the services they provide, new trends, or legislation that may affect their services or audience, and other issues. From these monthly meetings, partnering opportunities will develop. Once developed, the coalition must be maintained and remain flexible. With agency and organization staff turnover and funding changes, it takes some work to keep networks up to date. However, the results are well worth the effort and time.

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  • Montana State Library
  • P.O. Box 201800, 1515 East 6th Avenue
  • Helena, MT 59620-1800
  • Phone: (406) 444-3115
  • Fax: (406) 444-0266
  • msl.mt.gov