December 13, 2023 / News & Blog

ACM Trends #6.4 Collaborating with Libraries: What Children’s Museums Need to Know

Data for this report comes from two surveys. That pertaining to children’s museums’ collaborations with libraries was collected through the Spring 2023 ACM Member Collaborations survey. The dataset contains information from 59 member institutions. Data on library collaborations with museums was collected through a NILPPA survey of US libraries conducted in 2022. This dataset contains information from 314 libraries. Research for both of these projects is supported by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (Grant #s: MG-251839-
OMS-22; MG-80-19-0042-19; LG-250153-OLS-21).

Libraries and museums have a shared mission as sites of informal learning.

Both museums and libraries are in the process of expanding the ways they serve their communities, going beyond informal learning to become sites for convening, health and wellness, and other community needs. As their roles change, there are new opportunities for museum-library partnerships. To help children’s museums leverage their existing library partnerships (or form new ones) in support of newly emerging goals, this Trends Report offers a library centered perspective on what makes partnerships effective. What are libraries looking for in a prospective community partner? What do they value in their collaborative relationships? And what are new ways children’s museums can work with libraries to support broader community goals?

The survey also offered insights into the goals children’s museums are pursuing through collaboration. Though varying considerably, museums’ collaborative goals are connected to three broadly shared aims: (1) healing; (2) learning; (3) community. In what follows, we discuss how these findings can help children’s museums understand, approach, and evaluate collaborative work. Our hope is that sharing this information will not only stimulate dialogue around collaboration and partnership, but also help children’s museum leaders plan new collaborative programs and begin the process of building relationships with new partners.

To address these questions, we explore findings from two recent IMLS-funded field-wide surveys: (1) the Spring 2023 ACM Member Collaborations Survey (whose results we discussed in ACM Trends Report 6.3); (2) a 2022 survey conducted by Knology and the American Library Association’s Public Programs Office (ALA PPO) as part of an IMLS-funded project called “National Impact of Library Public Programs Assessment” ( Both surveys included questions about collaborative programming, and their results offer insights into how libraries and children’s museums can expand and strengthen their partnerships in support of shared institutional and community goals.

Read the full ACM Trends #6.4 report >