Free Library of Philadelphia

BLAST/School Partnerships Coordinator


Project Goal: Support the implementation of BLAST (Bringing Libraries and Schools Togeher) in its crucial and ambitious second phase, which seeks to improve the collaboration and co-instruction of fourth graders (and other elementary students) by teachers and Free Library librarians.


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 19103-1189

Total number of Agency Staff Members  1100

Agency Budget  $35 million

Job Description

The fellow’s duties and responsibilities:         

-manage, troubleshoot, and support teacher-librarian communication and relationships

-coordinate data and information sharing for evaluation process, including teacher/librarian feedback

-present workshops and training sessions to librarians, to teachers, and occasionally, to students in the classroom

-evaluate and improve website processes for teachers and principals requesting library services and programs


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

Interest in partnerships and collaborations;

Attention to detail

Clear communication skills and timely to follow up

Critical thinking approach

Community Need

Specific community need that the Philly Fellow will address:

All of the public elementary schools in Philadelphia have populations eligible for free lunch/anti-hunger initiatives. In addition, there are only a handful (8-11) school librarians left in the School District, and none of them is in an elementary school. Research nationally shows that school children with regular library access perform better in literacy than their peers without regular access to libraries, librarians and library services. Additional research within the PSD, under the guise of an Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant on which the Free Library has partnered, has also demonstrated these outcomes locally.


How the new capacity created by this fellow will help strengthen the community and alleviate the problem:   

This Fellow will help train and orient librarians to the best practices and research-tested strategies for best partnering with teachers and classrooms. These benefits will be permanent. In addition, this position will support an elaborate evaluation (conducted by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago) that seeks to understand school partnerships at the Free Library and provide a continuous quality improvement process to them. Most specifically, they will train librarians on iPad lab implementation, recruit more teacher partners, substantially contribute to evaluation and CQI of FLP BLAST initiative.


Level of community involvement in the fellow’s project:

35% in school communities and actively engaging with front-line librarians, teachers and students. In addition, the fellow is expected to be a team leader in many of these situations, and will be developed along those lines.


The organization’s experience operating anti-poverty programming of this nature:

Innovative Approaches to Literacy has run at 17 libraries, supporting 10 elementary schools, for 2 years. The Free Library runs the second-largest afterschool program in the City, has maintained a summer reading program with more than 40,000 participants a year for more than 20 years, and reaches into almost every community in the city by being a warm (or cool), dry, friendly and accessible space for all Philadelphians.


Fellowship Logistics


Fellow orientation plan:

On boarding with Strategic Initiatives team, as well as with implementation and evaluation consultants from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago; tours and visits to the schools and libraries involved; reading and discussion of project documents and timelines; monthly workplan meetings


Name and title of the fellow’s immediate supervisor:  Joel Nichols; Data Strategy & Evaluation Administrator


Plans for supervision of the fellow:

Weekly supervisory meetings with Evaluation administrator; weekly or biweekly project calls with Chapin Hall team in Chicago; monthly workplan meetings with accountability follow ups.


Will fellow be working at the same address listed above? 



Will the fellow have their own…             

Office?  Fellow will share 
  Fellow will have their own
 Fellow will have their own


The approximate percentage of time the fellow will work…

Independently  30  

As a team member in a group setting  35

As a team leader in a group setting   35


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

If so, how often and where?   Around the City, to Libraries and sometimes their partner schools. Approximately twice a month.


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

A driver’s license?  No

Their own car?   No