Strengthening School Libraries through Community Partnerships

Numerous national studies document the critical importance of childhood literacy for success in school and life, yet schools and libraries across the nation are facing significant attempts to limit their role in children’s lives, ranging from reduced foot traffic to the elimination of school libraries entirely. The Baltimore Elementary and Middle School Library Project is a testament to what is possible when public, private, and community partners come together to transform libraries into safe, welcoming spaces that increase students’ access to books, improve their academic achievement, and inspire their imaginations.

In this webinar, Leisel Harry, manager of the project, along with Emmanuel Faulkner and Brooke Grams from the Baltimore City Public School Libraries will share the principles that have made this a successful partnership and strategies for adapting these principles to your own library, school, or community.

This event is offered as part of ALA Learning's Summer of School Library Learning.

Through participation in this event, learners will be able to: 

  • Build well-resourced, thriving libraries in schools serving low-income families
  • Bring together partners across multiple sectors (public, private, philanthropic) to finance and support these spaces, including governance and accountability structures;
  • Determine equitable criteria for school selection; and
  • Create a sustainability plan. 

Leisel Harry has been an employee of The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation since 2013. She first served as a Program Assistant to four of the Foundation’s Program Directors, then Program Associate until her promotion to Program Officer in 2020. In her role as Program Officer, Leisel manages the Baltimore Library Project and the Small Grants Program. In addition, she assists with the Education portfolio and leads the Trauma, Abuse, and Safety piece of the Health portfolio, while working closely with community partners to refine various strategies as well as further the goals of each portfolio.

Emmanuel Faulkner is the Education Specialist for Baltimore City Public School Libraries. He has had the opportunity to make a career of educating the students of BCPS for 22 years and has found his passion being a Librarian. This passion led him to being President of the Maryland Association of School Librarians and having various leadership roles in “Library Land.”  He loves to travel, meeting authors of his favorite books and his current readings.

Brooke Grams is the Coordinator for Library & Media Services for Baltimore City Public Schools. She spent her first 6 years in the district teaching middle school ELA, then transitioned to the role of Library Media Specialist at Forest Park High School where she became the Lead teacher and served for 13 years. In her role as Library Media Specialist, Brooke supported the infusion of technology into the curriculum, developed strong community partnerships, and assisted teachers in all content areas with research, writing, and literacy skills. She has taught a variety of classes including, most recently, the AP Capstone Program courses, and served as a Collegeboard scorer for AP Seminar. Additionally, Brooke serves as an Adjunct Professor at Notre Dame of Maryland University in the Library Certification program. Brooke currently works in the District Central Office supporting Library programming and partnerships and supporting Media Specialists at various schools.

This event will be hosted in Zoom. Automatic captions will be enabled for this event. This event will be recorded, and registrants will receive access to the recording within a day after the event ends.

If you have questions or requests regarding accessibility, contact us at or at 312-280-5100.