We have been fortunate to form some truly wonderful partnerships with libraries in the St. Louis region. Notably the St. Louis County Library System and Kirkwood Public Library in Kirkwood, MO.
In both systems We Stories curricular titles are labeled as “We Stories” and searchable in the library database. This enables participating We Stories families, and all other community members, to access a wonderful, diverse list of books at no cost. We have also developed We Stories kit libraries covering more than 26 different themes. Each kit contains 4-6 books, a discussion guide, parent resources and often an activity or toy.
Our partnerships have helped to increase the circulation of the diverse titles in our curriculum, not only because of increased patron demand but also because both library systems began to shelve and display these diverse titles more prominently.
At Kirkwood Public Library we have also engaged in a multiple-session training series for library staff and also educators with Kirkwood Parents as Teachers, made possible through a grant supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Missouri State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State. This training is focused on helping staff and educators engage more regularly and comfortably in conversations about race and racism, and empower the families they serve to do the same.
Across both library systems, the We Stories kits have proven to be popular items across our very segregated region, and our ‘sweet spot’ continues to be helping institutions think about deepening family engagement in both the library and larger civic environment.
Our organization’s mission is focused on contributing to regional change in St. Louis and we know that our partnerships with regional libraries are a critical part of achieving that. We know that our experience contains lessons for other regions who also want to shift engagement in their regions. We Stories was proud to present at the Public Library Association national conference with the Director of the St Louis County Library Association in March 2018. A copy of our presentation is available to interested libraries seeking transferable lessons. We also presented at the Missouri Library Association conference in October of 2018.
At this point we are exploring partnership opportunities and gathering interest from other Missouri-based library systems. If your Missouri-based library system is interested in exploring partnership with We Stories please send us an email to email@example.com telling us a little about your system, your goals, and your community’s needs. We are looking for opportunities to elevate this work and connect systems together in service of engaging more families in reading diverse books and exploring conversations about race.
We also invite interested institutions to check out our past webinar with Embrace Race, a national multiracial community of parents, teachers, experts, and other caring adults who support each other to meet the challenges that race poses to our children, families, and communities. A copy of the webinar can be found here, and supporting materials, here.