Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation

BLAST/School Partnerships Coordinator


Project Goal: The goals for the Philly Fellow are:

  • Present six 45-min sessions to help 4th grade students enhance their research and library science skills and apply them to a social studies project.
  • Provide ongoing opportunities for students, teachers, and families to learn about the resources offered at libraries and how to access those services and supports.
  • Build closer partnerships with schools and libraries to establish stronger connections to learning before, during, after school and in summer.


Agency Information



Agency Mission
The mission of the Free Library of Philadelphia is to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity. Its vision is to build an enlightened community devoted to lifelong learning.

Address  1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA

Total number of Agency Staff Members  800

Agency Budget   $43,268,399


Job Description

Bringing Librarians and Schools Together (BLAST) BLAST is new partnership between the Free Library of Philadelphia and the School District of Philadelphia to enhance opportunities for collaboration between librarians and teachers. The initiative focuses on the unique contributions that libraries and schools make in the lives of children and families.

The fellow’s duties and responsibilities:

  • facilitate partnership meetings
  • visit libraries and schools to communicate in person and offer planning support
  • monitor and track the relationship milestones for evaluation
  • problem solve how to erase and reduce barriers in these relationships
  • assist in planning and disseminating the technical and content training to staff at 8 participating libraries
  • conduct hands-on assistance in using the iPad labs for school partnerships
  • track and monitor their use for reporting and continuous quality improvement
  • support the implementation and evaluation of BLAST pilot activities in 15 schools
  • monitor and interview librarians and teachers
  • observe library and school visits
  • implement research activities in classrooms
  • coordinate schedule and logistics for pilot visits
  • support continued relationship building

Skills/qualifications a fellow should have to succeed in the position:

  • Excellent writing, presentation, and interpersonal skills
  • Mastery of Microsoft Office suite
  • Interest and experience in:   analyzing data in a variety of formats and from a variety of sources;  creating the proper data sets and integrating them from different tools;  conducting formal and informal interviews;  research
  • Interest and experience in Philadelphia neighborhoods

Community Need

Specific community need that the Philly Fellow will address:

Philadelphia is the poorest big city in the US, with an astounding 22.9% poverty rate as of the 2010 Census. This is a problem that is getting worse; in 1990, our povery rate was 20.3%, and in 1970 only 15.4%, according to We also know from a recent Pew report about library use and attitude that African Americans and Hispanics are both more likely to use a library and more likely to rely on a library for vital needs such as internet access to pay bills, work on resumes, and apply for jobs ( But we do not reach all of the underserved people who are living in our communities, and need more rigorous methods of assessing and mapping needs, as well as reaching out to the most underserved Philadelphians. We have recently reorganized into a geographical cluster model that decentralizes authority and lets groups of 6-8 branches work in more aligned ways with the demonstrated needs in their communities. With over 61 locations around Philadelphia, we have unique access to the most vulnerable Philadelphians and hope to increase their access to and use of the branches.


How the agency addresses this need, and how the new capacity created by this fellow will help alleviate the problem:
The Free Library of Philadelphia currently utilizes various approaches to assess these needs: community profiles, social epidemiological models, market segmentation analysis, community surveys, and anecdotal information, and has recently reorganized into a geographical cluster model that will enable neighborhood libraries to serve their communities more nimbly. The BLAST/School Partnerships Coordinator will complete a project that builds closer partnerships with schools and libraries to establish stronger connections to learning before, during, after school and in summer.

The organization’s experience operating anti-poverty programming of this nature:
In some ways, we run anti-poverty programming with more reach than any other agency in the city, except perhaps the School District, with early literacy storytimes, job skills and searching workshops for adults, our drop-in afterschool program (LEAP), our summer reading program, etc. But in other ways, our efforts are siloed and scattershot. This fellowship project would enhance the quality of our programming of this nature and help executive staff at the library systematize it make it more useful to the audiences in need.


Fellowship Logistics


Fellow orientation plan:

The fellow will work closely with the entire Strategic Initiatives team in an on-boarding process to orient them to the work of the Free Library and our strategic priorities. In addition, there will be a structured curriculum of readings, meetings, tours, and trainings in the first month to introduce the fellow to the library and our communities, and vice versa. We also see training as an on-going need, and will offer appropriate professional development opportunities throughout their entire time here. They will have a weekly one-on-one with the Data Strategy and Evaluation Administrator, the first several of which will be focused on detailing a work plan for the year. That work plan will become the guiding document for additional training, as well as our way to measure performance and progress.

Name and title of the fellow’s immediate supervisor:

Joel Nichols, Data Strategy and Evaluation Administrator

Plans for supervision of the fellow:

The fellow will report to Data Strategy and Evaluation Administrator, and as detailed above, meet with him once a week. The administrator will develop a workplan with the fellow will become the guiding document for measuring performance and progress.

Will fellow be working at the same address listed above?


Will the fellow have their own…             

Office?  Fellow will have their own          Desk?  Fellow will have their own           Computer?  Fellow will have their own


The approximate percentage of time the fellow will work…

Independently  60%          

As a team member in a group setting  40%

As a team leader in a group setting  0%


Will the fellow be expected to travel as part of the position?  Yes

If so, how often and where?   

 We have 53 neighborhood locations; the fellow will occasionally visit neighborhood libraries for visits, tours, and events. All are accessible via easy SEPTA rides and/or by driving with library staff in a staff vehicle. 

Will the fellow need the following to carry out the position…

A driver’s license?  Yes

Their own car?  No