Free resources available to help libraries engage community, lead change

For Immediate Release
Mon, 08/25/2014


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office


CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) is offering free materials to help libraries improve their community engagement and facilitation techniques.

The materials — conversation guides, questionnaires, worksheets and webinars — are designed to help libraries strengthen their roles as core community leaders and work with residents to bring positive change to their communities.

The resources were developed by The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, whose “turning outward” approach emphasizes changing the orientation of institutions and individuals from internal (organization-facing) to external (community-facing). This process entails taking steps to better understand communities; changing processes and thinking to make conversations more community-focused; being proactive about community issues; and developing shared aspirations.

Libraries are encouraged to download, copy and share the materials, free of charge, at The resources are offered as part of ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative.

Available materials include tools such as:

  • Aspirations/Aspirations Facilitator’s Guide (PDF) help libraries focus on their community’s aspirations, identify next steps for creating change, and create an aspirations-based narrative for their community as a starting point for library action.
  • Turn Outward (PDF) helps libraries assess the focus of their efforts in the community as they shift their orientation from internal to external.
  • Sustaining Yourself (PDF) helps library professionals map the components that fuel their motivation and commitment for community work.

For a full list of resources, as well as a 90-day guide for getting started with the “turning outward” approach, visit

About Libraries Transforming Communities

Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) is an ALA initiative that seeks to strengthen libraries’ roles as core community leaders and change-agents. LTC addresses a critical need within the library field by developing and distributing new tools, resources and support for libraries to engage with their communities in new ways. As a result, ALA believes libraries will become more reflective of and connected to their communities and build stronger partnerships with local civic agencies, nonprofits, funders and corporations. The initiative is made possible through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

About The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation

The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation is a national nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, Md., that teaches and coaches people and organizations to solve pressing problems and change how communities work together. The institute is guided by Richard C. Harwood, whose transformational work during the past 25 years has spread to thousands of communities nationally and worldwide, from small towns to large cities.