Publication Date



College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences


Social Work

Document Type



In 2020, many small communities lost their public libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic. While most have reopened, today they are operating with far fewer staff and hours than they were before the closures. Yet, the public library in one rural city is thriving today, with more hours and staff than any other in the county. This unlikely miracle is a result of the partnership between the local community college and this city: the college provides ongoing library staffing for the city’s library, while the city provides facilities, collections, and oversight for the library. This partnership, though not without its challenges, has provided both the city library and the community college library with a singular opportunity to engage multiple communities and expand library access beyond traditional conceptions of an academic or a public library. This has resulted in a breaking down of barriers to higher education for students of all ages by meeting them where they are and promoting literacy through public library services. In collaborating, the two public entities not only give a rural community back its public library, but give it back greater access than before and with expanded services. The authors of this case study write about this partnership from their dual perspectives (academic and public) to showcase how this partnership was initiated, how collaboration between institutions and libraries was achieved, and what the implications for this type of partnership can be.



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