A Most Epic Event: Partnering with Townships

A Most Epic Event: Partnering with Townships

Presented by Tegan Conner-Cole – Wissahickon Valley Public Library in Montgomery County

Lower Gwynedd Township doesn’t have a library, but is served by Wissahickon – too much travel time. Director and Township Manager had a meeting (maybe a library, but instead outreach by library to Township). Partnership with Rec Commission – 1 year ago, started it.

Wanted a story-walk/book trail and truck petting zoo – not possible at Wissahickon. Waited for a partner. Lower Gwynedd has Penllyn Woods with a boardwalk. Brainstormed ideas with Parks and Rec Director and came up with PA One Book Truck Petting Zoo. Earth Day, National Library Week – both April 20. Library Added to events already planned. “The Bus for Us – ‘touch a truck’” – great publicity for the Township – fancy new trucks bought by the Township. Book Trial is a ‘green event’ for earth day. Get a book, everybody wins, Library/Township win/win.

Month prior, middle school reached out re: energy audit kits. Invite them to the event (green, too). Share table at event. Publicity for 3 events in one – National Library Week, PA One Book and Earth Day.

Reality – cruiser, backhoe, dumptruck, etc. Story walk (pages of the book on sticks along trail), and tents. Rain prior. Windy, cold and damp. 60 people attended. Needed more volunteers. Book pages fell off or fell over b/c of wind. People missed the location. Miscommunication among parties, but still successful. Book trail went well – fun. Middle school table went well – opportunity to share what Library has.

Energy Audit Kits at the library a huge hit. Kilowatt meters, etc. Bring in new users.

TO DO: Energy audit kit grant through PECO – school partnership? Get a banner for outreach events.

Live action board game at a fair, book trail to other events and/or at schools, Stories in the Park, “I dig nature” with Women’s Club and Lower Gwynedd (birding, gifts, scavenger hunt bags, dig for fossils, etc.),

For Adults – Tech Q&A one-on-one in library and off-site, Lectures – at library and off-site. Master Gardener, Philadelphia Museum of Art – promoted in township newsletter.

With Whitpain Township – Stories in the Park program takes the Library Outside (in Ambler Gazette). Part of Parks & Tots Program camp, ongoing,

Host ‘preview’ classes for paid classes. See the kids weekly – see librarian. Moves & Grooves-type program that are paid experiences through the township that parents can preview at library for free.

How to get started:

  • Township Manager First
  • Parks & Rec. Director (we don’t have one)
  • Have some ideas ready
  • Look at what you offer – can they be moved elsewhere?
  • Consider Strengths & Weaknesses
  • Think about promotion – National Library Week theme, One Book project titles, etc.


  • Tables at events, including harvest fests
  • Bring over lectures
  • Story times outside the library
  • Truck Petting Zoo
  • Themed Library Weeks (Community? Safety? Etc.?)
  • Book Trail (Historic trail)
  • Grant Partner – Maker Space in new Teen space – new community space for kids created together by township and library – grant.

Ideas from audience:

  • Look at City/Township magazine and see what can be partnered with – invite self
  • Fire Prevention Week
  • Battle of the Bands
  • Share supplies with Township (lego, kickballs, cones, props, etc.)
  • Partner with summer camps, etc. – resource sharing and PR for library
  • Host events for the Township – piggy back
  • “Meet the Editor” event at the Library – invited community non-profits and city gov’t
  • What does the township get out of it? Publicity, community outreach, PR and use of their buildings

[end notes]

After this event, Pam and I discussed having a book trail from the Library to the Township’s new playground near the new soccer fields as a way to celebrate both the playground and the new sidewalk linking the library to the rest of the community amenities.  Without a Rec Commission to partner with, coordination is more complicated, but the Fire Prevention Open House we piggy-backed on a couple of weeks ago was a great success.  Look forward to partnering with the Valley Youth Center and Huntingdon Valley Activities Association – two of the other non-profits that share our building and coordinate events and activities for HV!


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