About This Page
This web page highlights the latest developments from ULC's Partnering with Schools action team, which is one of six member-led teams spearheading ULC's Going Forward from the Pandemic initiative.
This page receives ongoing updates. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or feedback.Learn more about ULC's action teams
A Message from the Team
Providing young learners with equitable and high-quality education opportunities is essential for the long-term resiliency and prosperity of all communities. However, the continous learning needs of 21st-century youth are too vast for any single institution to take on alone.
Public libraries and school systems are natural partners for ensuring every child has a fair chance to achieve educational success and benefit from robust learning experiences, regardless of their family's socioeconomic status. COVID-19's disruption on education systems has magnified the challenges and gaps facing today's youth, making library-school partnerships more vital than ever.
Our action team aims to help unlock the full potential of partnerships between schools and libraries across North America by raising awareness of critical challenges and effective, sustainable solutions.
Current Guiding Questions
How can libraries help schools take on the access, engagement and childcare challenges of "blended learning" (mixing in-person and online offerings)?
How can libraries and schools reach and engage students who lack access to broadband internet, adequate technology and tech support?
How can schools and libraries build stronger partnerships and advance mutual goals by sharing data and using common metrics for success?
How can school-library partnerships help advance stronger and more equitable outcomes and futures for the entire community?
Meet the Team Members
Calgary Public Library
Appointed to the CEO role in 2019, Mark Asberg first joined Calgary Public Library as director of service delivery in August 2014. Prior to his work at the library, Mark had taken on a series of leadership roles in provincial and regional library systems, including at Alberta Justice, Canada Revenue Agency and Alberta Health Services. At Calgary Public Library, Mark has been at the forefront of key projects and initiatives including expanding library service to new communities, increasing participation in libraries through enhanced virtual and mobile services and sustained growth in programming and outreach, and developing strong partnerships with key government and community groups, including Calgary’s school boards.
New York Public Library
Manager, School Support & Outreach
Shauntee Burns-Simpson is currently the manager of school support and outreach at the New York Public Library where she has held several positions. She is currently the president of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and is proud to hold the position during the organization's 50th anniversary. She is the former chair of ALA’s Committee on Diversity and a member of the Association for Library Services to Children and the Young Adult Library Services Association's Train the Trainer project. She is past president of the Reference Adult Services Section of the New York Library Association 2012-2013 and New York Black Librarians Caucus 2013-2015.
Portland Public Library
Sarah Campbell serves as Executive Director of Portland Public library, the largest urban library system in Maine. She also serves on the Steering Committee for Portland ConnectEd (a cradle-to-career education initiative), on the Education Cabinet for Thrive 2027 (a county-wide collective impact initiative for education, health, and financial stability), and as Chair for Leadership Portland. Sarah joined the ULC Executive Board in July 2020.
Pima County Public Library
Literacy Initiatives Program Manager
Kendra Davey is the literacy initiatives program manager for Pima County Public Library in Tucson, Ariz. Kendra oversees systemwide programs and services for children and teens ages birth to 18 and their parents.
Melanie Townsend Diggs
Prince George's County Memorial Library System
South Area Manager
Melanie Townsend Diggs is a professional librarian who has over 20 years of experience in public and school librarianship. Melanie has received several awards and accolades throughout her tenure in librarianship, including the ALA's Spectrum Scholarship (1998), Tech Logic's People First Award (2015), ALA's Lemony Snicket Award for Noble Librarian's Faced With Adversity (2016) and the Maryland Library Association's President Award for Customer Service (2016). In her current role, Melanie strives to remain connected to the community and to the needs of the customers, including students and families in Southern Prince George's County.
Community Services Director
Marianna DiGiacomo has dedicated her career to strengthening public library’s focus on literacy and community collaborations. Marianna joined Stark Library in 2007 and served as youth services librarian and literacy and events coordinator prior to her role as community services director. She directs Stark Library’s literacy initiatives, school and community partnerships, outreach services, technology training and events. She is a graduate of Leadership Stark County’s Government Academy, American Library Association’s Leadership Institute and serves on many local committees dedicated to ensuring children are ready for school success.
Kansas City Public Library
Director of Strategic Learning
Andrea Ellis is an educator, producer, storyteller and organizational leader. As director of strategic learning for the Kansas City Public Library, she has leveraged that expertise to create innovative programming to support youth development. A primary initiative was designing, implementing and building the Kansas City Digital Media Lab. Part of the national YOUmedia Network, KCDML is a makerspace that utilizes project-based, interest driven learning and supportive adults to help youth level up both personally and professionally. Andrea's work, interests and motivation are best described by this Ernest Holmes' quote,"Principle is not bound by precedent. There is no law in the Universe that seeks to perpetuate old limitation."
Cuyahoga County Public Library
Literacy and Learning Division Director
As the literacy and learning division director, Pam is responsible for overseeing all library programming from birth to senior years, setting systemwide programming standards and managing grant funded initiatives including an Ohio Department of Higher Education grant. She currently serves on Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Workforce Development Board and MetroHealth Hospitals Arts in Health Advisory Committee.
Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library
Scott Kinney is the CEO-director of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library located in Evansville, Ind. With more than 30 years in libraries, Kinney has previously served as director of Mobile Public Library in Mobile, Ala. and as director of the Sweetwater County Library System in Green River, Wyo. Kinney is passionate about public libraries and about his community, continually collaborating with his staff and those they serve to discover what the library means to them and exploring how he and the library continue supporting the community as it grows and thrives.
Mid-Continent Public Library
Youth Services Department Manager
Katie McDonald leads the Youth Services Department at Mid-Continent Public Library, an organization that serves more than 816,000 residents across three counties in the Kansas City, Mo., metropolitan area. In her role, she oversees a team of three who develop and implement programs, services and resources that promote early literacy and support the intellectual growth of local children.
Prior to her current position, Katie held several other titles within the library system, including employment specialist in the Human Resources Department and manager of the library’s Liberty Branch. Her reputation and work ethic have earned her numerous honors and accolades throughout her career, including being accepted into, and graduating from, the prestigious Doniphan Leadership Institute at William Jewell College. Katie is a graduate of Park University and earned her Master of Library Science from Emporia State University.
Los Angeles Public Library
Director, Engagement and Learning Division
Eva Mitnick has worked at the Los Angeles Public Library as a children's librarian, branch manager, coordinator of youth services and director of Central Library. Currently, she directs the engagement and learning division, which focuses on systemwide programs, services and outreach for all ages.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Community Partnerships Leader
Martha Link Yesowitch is the community partnerships leader with Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. In this role, she sets the strategic direction for the library’s organizational relationships with educational, nonprofit and corporate partners under the mission of improving lives and building a stronger community. The collaboration with Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools is especially vital, featuring targeted curriculum support enhanced by the ONE Access initiative providing integrated access to library materials for over 150,000 students and teachers.
Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library
Chief Strategy Officer
Beth Yoke has served as chief strategy officer for The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County for the past two years. Prior to that, she served as executive director of the Young Adult Library Services Association. Beth has also worked as a university and high school librarian as well as an elementary school teacher.
Deep Dive Resources
More from ULC on Partnering with Schools
Use the links below to learn more about how ULC and our members are innovating to establish impactful models for stronger library-school partnerships.
From ULC's Website
- ULC's Leaders Library Card Challenge initiative and framework
- ULC's Leaders Library Card Challenge Strategic Guide
- ULC's Partners for Middle School STEM initiative
- ULC's Library-School Partnerships for Early Literacy initiative
- ULC Innovations Initiative submissions
- Entries on the ULC blog
From ULC's Member Knowledge Exchange (🔒 ULC members only)
- Helping students and navigators navigate library e-resources
- Tools for Students Toolkit - Pierce County Library System
- Student library cards
- Sample partnership agreements