Guide 2: Define Stakeholders and Partners

Getting Started

The first place to start looking for potential partners is to become familiar with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) and their member organizations. These medical libraries and other health-related agencies can often work with public libraries to provide health information in their communities.

Information about the National Network of Libraries of Medicine is available at:

You can search for local members of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine on their online directory at:

Next Steps

If there are no NN/LM members in your area, or if you want to partner with more than one agency, working through intermediary groups with local, state-wide or regional influence is another effective method. Here are some steps to take:

  1. Develop criteria that would indicate what would makes an agency a viable candidate, and from these criteria develop a list of potential partners. Example criteria are: a mission similar to yours in terms of health information outreach, a large client base, and outreach methods to communities that complement yours. Get profiles of typical community groups that use the library's facilities such as the local chapter of AARP, the Rotary Club, the Lions Club, or even a local cancer support group.
  2. Approach and influence the potential partner to work with you in achieving your goals of providing quality health information and resources to health information consumers. Establish relationships through routine contact, by offering training opportunities, and creating information products and resources about health and wellness.
  3. Work collaboratively for a win-win situation with the partners to achieve your goals of increased awareness of the available health resources and information as well as the local agencies that provide them.
  4. Once established, maintain working relationships in order to protect the gains made. Reference previous work to establish credibility with intermediary agencies and the public.

Examples of Potential Partners

Below is a list of possible community groups with whom public libraries could partner to provide health information outreach. This list was extracted from Consumer Health Information for Public Librarians by Lynda Baker and Virginia Manbeck (Scarecrow Press, 2002):

  • Local physicians, dentists, and chiropractors
  • Local pharmacies
  • Visiting nurses or home healthcare nurses
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program offices
  • Counseling centers or mental health clinics
  • HIV/AIDS resource centers and clinics
  • Public health departments
  • Fitness centers or health clubs
  • La Leche League groups
  • Health food stores
  • Hospice providers
  • Senior citizens' homes
  • Day care centers
  • Faith-based groups
  • YMCA or YWCA


Building Successful Partnerships from the Effective Practices Database provided by the National Service Resource Center.

Examples of successful partnerships can be found in Brief Guide #4 - "Planning Activities to Reach Project Goals."