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Limitless Libraries

Nashville Public Library

Problem Statement

Nashville’s public school system has worked hard to reach improving status under federal No Child Left Behind laws. Education is a key priority for Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who has forged numerous community partnerships and citywide efforts aimed at reform and improvement of city schools. Recognizing the importance of libraries to the education process, Mayor Dean asked Nashville Public Library to take the lead in a new partnership between the public and school libraries, with NPL recommending specific steps to improve the school libraries and foster resource sharing between the two institutions. Subsequent study revealed that not all school libraries owned enough volumes to meet State Department of Education standards, and that the average age of school library nonfiction materials exceeds 20 years.


Nashville Public Library and the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools have begun the Limitless Libraries project to improve the MNPS high school libraries by applying the expertise of the public library to the school library system. Future consolidation of collection development and procurement under the public library’s management will allow school library staff to focus on direct service and information delivery to students. The merger of materials budgets and processes will enable greater price negotiation with vendors and greater efficiency in materials flow.

A pilot project with 3 high schools is now under way. Students at those schools now have public library cards; and a new educator’s card gives teachers and school librarians extended privileges to help them serve curriculum needs at their schools. Courier service has been established to deliver public library and interlibrary loan materials from local academic institutions to students at their schools. A special collection of curriculum-related e-books from Ingram Digital has been provided for students. Communication between school and public library staff, long problematic for both institutions, is improving dramatically. The pilot project will be completed in June, 2010, with a summary report that will include recommendations and steps for expanding the project to all MNPS high schools.


MNPS students will have access to school library collections that are age- and reading level-appropriate, with an acceptable publication date, and meet the curriculum needs of each school. Students and teachers will have access to the electronic and tangible collections of NPL and the academic institutions across Middle Tennessee.