Better Together: The Free Library Partners with Schools

By Jess P. RSS Fri, October 26, 2018

Now more than ever, students and teachers at our schools need the information and skills that librarians and libraries can provide. This year, the Free Library is working to spread the word about the information, ideas, and resources that we already have to support our city’s students and educators, and to think through new and innovative ways to connect and partner with schools! We’ll be rolling out more resources for schools and teachers throughout the year through our School Partnerships program.

Here are just a few of the fantastic collaborations between libraries and schools that are already underway across the city this year:  

This fall, fourth grade students from the Stanton School are diving into a study of Abraham Lincoln in preparation for their visit to the Rosenbach Museum & Library, where they will explore a copy of the Baltimore Address written in Lincoln's own hand. At the end of the year-long project, students will write and deliver speeches which, like the Baltimore Address, communicate the importance of fighting for justice in this world. You might be thinking, "Is it really possible for fourth graders to decipher the meaning of the Baltimore Address?" Their teacher, Joan Williams, firmly believes they are capable and she encourages students to, in her words, "go big or go home." Find out how a school visit to the Rosenbach can inspire students at your school!


As a partner in the Bring Libraries and Schools Together (BLAST) and Building Bridges with Books programs, Wynnefield Library Branch Manager Susan Ben has years of experience with visiting students and teachers. With funding from BLAST, Susan worked with other librarians to select key texts for the Free Library’s collection to engage students during Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Pennsylvania state history projects. With new depth in our collections, visiting students were exposed to a richer array of resources and role models during these key curricular focus months at school. Programs like BLAST and BBWB give librarians and teachers unique opportunities to share information—a lesson we’re hoping to apply city-wide! If you are a teacher, connect with a local librarian near you.

Kristin Sawka, our Northeast Area Coordinator, has learned the importance of community connections in reaching schools. She’s spent years attending George Washington High School’s School Advisory Council, Somerton Civic Association meetings, the 7th Police District’s community meetings, and connecting with the Philadelphia School District’s Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Liaisons. All of these resources have kept her attuned to the needs of local schools, new Americans, and seniors. Kristin worked with local teachers to develop library workshops to address school needs voiced by the SAC, such as internet safety and other digital literacies. In collaboration with the 9th Grade Academy at GWHS, her library helped create a "Tech Squad" matching high school students on their lunch periods with senior citizens who need tech device assistance. These community connections have kept the Free Library hooked into the needs of its schools in the Northeast through many changes. Are you part of a District school community? Finding out who your FACE Liaison is a great way to get involved!  

As our schools seek creative ways to meet curricular standards while emphasizing critical inquiry, teachers are using primary resources more than ever. The Rare Book Department’s Traveling Treasures program answers this call by visiting K-8 classrooms to introduce students to original artifacts that they can feel and touch. In the past year, Traveling Treasures has visited public, charter, and parochial schools throughout Philadelphia. Hundreds of students have experienced first-hand the world of special collections and primary resources, often for the first time. Interested in learning more? Please sign up today to schedule your visit or to get more information.




Intrigued by these stories of successful school and library partnerships? There are many more! Want to know how schools and Free Library can work together in your neighborhood? Please visit our website to sign up for updates and to learn more about resources for educators and students.

We would love to hear from you! To start a more in-depth conversation about what your school community needs from the Free Library, contact us via email:

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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