Eliot Glassheim, Grand Forks, column: Library partnerships enrich, enliven GF

By Eliot Glassheim Libraries have a long history of partnership and collaboration. From the logical partnership with schools and other literacy-based organizations to collaboration with museums and historical societies, libraries always have work...

By Eliot Glassheim

Libraries have a long history of partnership and collaboration. From the logical partnership with schools and other literacy-based organizations to collaboration with museums and historical societies, libraries always have worked closely with other community organizations.

In 1890, the first annual report of the Minneapolis Public Library (available online at

2defrnf) reported partnerships with a science museum and an art school. The Grand Forks Public Library has a long history of partnerships as well. A few examples include working with the Project for Advancing Literacy, collaborating with the Small Business Administration on an outreach project, working with the Historical Society on genealogy projects and most recently with the Greater Grand Forks Big Read.

Of course, the library's longest partnership history is with other libraries in the area, from the UND libraries to school libraries to libraries throughout the state.


Libraries truly are all about cooperation and collaboration.

With the possibility of a new library in the near future, it's an ideal time to think about new opportunities for partnership and collaboration. A few ideas are described below, but please keep in mind that these are not proposals. They're meant only to stimulate thoughts about ways the Grand Forks library can partner with other groups in order to provide the best possible service at the most reasonable cost.

Ideas will move forward only if potential partners think they make sense.

n In an attempt to connect people more closely with their schools, parks, city and county governments, the library could serve as an information center in two ways: First, it could be a paper and electronic depository for public information about programs, budgets, timelines and rules.

Second, the library could sponsor weekly presentations by city, state and federal agencies to brief people on what the agencies do and to take questions and even complaints about the services provided. This might be called a Community Information Service project and would require cooperation between many existing groups.

n UND is a tremendous resource for the people of Grand Forks, but much of the research and insights generated on campus too often remain unknown to most Grand Forks residents.

So, the library could partner with the university in being a venue where faculty and graduate students could present informal talks for a lay audience on the latest developments in their fields.

These weekly hour-long sessions, perhaps summarized in a weekly newspaper column, would help to knit together the town and the university and reinforce the pride we feel in being the home of UND.


n In cooperation with the Grand Forks School District, the library could act as a homework-help center as well as an adult literacy tutoring center, so adult learners could improve their reading, comprehension and retention skills.

n On another front, we know that whatever the exact outcome of the health care debate, citizens, businesses and health care and insurance providers will need accurate information about their rights and responsibilities in order to make informed choices.

The library could serve as a neutral center to gather and disseminate information about health care reform as it becomes known. With this in mind, the library could partner with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, the UND Medical School, Altru and Aurora medical centers, consumer groups and federal Medicare and Medicaid rule makers.

n The library also could work with Job Service North Dakota to make career and employment information more widely available, encouraging the public to use the library's resume-writing software that is available.

The library could serve as a central repository of information about career possibilities and requirements. It could sponsor talks by representatives from various lines of work throughout the year, so both young adults and people making mid-career changes might have a taste of what various careers are like.

n A few other possible partnerships involve collaboration between the library, the Senior Center, the Grand Forks County Historical Society and UND on recording and preserving oral histories; working with United Way on building a grant and research center; and partnering with the North Valley Arts Council to provide background materials for cultural events.

The library has a lot to offer. It is well-regarded as a fair and accessible public institution designed to serve residents of Grand Forks and the surrounding region. It is a storehouse of memory and useful information. It adds value to our community.

If Herald readers have other ideas for library partnerships, I hope they will either write to the Herald or visit and let us know.


Glassheim, a member of the Grand Forks City Council, is the City Council representative on the Grand Forks Public Library board.

What To Read Next
Get Local