How can partnerships between community college and public libraries harness their combined resources to elevate support for the basic needs of the communities they serve? Community libraries, whether public or academic, play a vital role in providing essential resources and services to diverse yet interconnected communities. Despite their importance, these libraries often operate in isolation, potentially overlooking opportunities to maximize their impact through collaboration.

Through our Maximizing Public-Academic Library Partnerships project funded by ECMC Foundation, Ithaka S+R is investigating different types of cross-sector library partnerships at a national level, with a focus on identifying their strengths and challenges. These partnerships can range from formalized agreements with shared resources to more informal collaborations where public and academic library leaders convene periodically to address their priorities.

The project seeks to offer public and academic libraries with examples of opportunities and strategies to strengthen current connections or establish new ones where needed. To explore the landscape of existing collaborative partnerships, we will be conducting case studies with both public and community college libraries within the same geographical region. These case studies will explore how the partnerships sustain their collaborative efforts, exchange resources and information, and enhance support for student and community basic needs.

For each case study, we will:

  • Conduct 20-25 virtual one-on-one interviews with individual stakeholders, including students, public librarians, community college librarians, and basic needs service providers. Interviewees will receive a $50 gift card for their participation.
  • Publish a publicly-available issue brief sharing the findings of the case studies.
  • Analyze state policies specific to basic needs policies and funding opportunities for libraries.
  • Fund up to five representatives to attend our Library Partnership Development Institute in New York City in the summer of 2025.
  • As part of the Library Partnership Development Institute, co-develop a publicly-available Implementation Framework describing steps towards forging and maintaining effective partnerships.

We plan to include three public-academic library partnerships in our research. If your library is currently engaged in external collaborative partnerships in any capacity to support students’ basic needs or your community more holistically, we would be greatly interested in hearing from you.

For more information, or if you think your institution might be interested in participating, please contact Melissa Blankstein ( or Elmira Jangjou (, or fill out the form below.

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