ALA, Harwood Institute announce 2018 ‘Public Innovators Lab for Libraries’ training in St. Louis

For Immediate Release
Tue, 05/22/2018


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office


CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) and The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation announce a three-day training opportunity to help libraries strengthen their role as agents of positive change in their communities.

The Public Innovators Lab for Libraries will be held Oct. 9 to 11, 2018, in St. Louis, Missouri. Librarians, community partners and stakeholders in libraries of all types — public, academic, school and special libraries — are invited to attend.

Learn more about the ALA/Harwood Institute Public Innovators Lab for Libraries.

Participants must register online by Friday, Sept. 28. The cost is $995 per person, and team participation is encouraged.

Through discussions, hands-on activities and collaborations with like-minded library professionals, participants will learn to:

  • tap libraries' natural values to contribute to the greater good and bring their communities together
  • surface people’s shared aspirations for their communities and help bring them to life
  • convene and lead productive, insightful community conversations
  • become stewards of public knowledge

“The Public Innovators Lab was moving, challenging and world-rocking — in the best possible way,” said Erica Freudenberger, former director of the Red Hook (New York) Public Library. Read a case study about Red Hook Public Library’s work with the Harwood Institute.

ALA and the Harwood Institute have collaborated to offer six Public Innovators Labs, and the two organizations worked together on ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) initiative. The collaboration is based on the idea that libraries, by virtue of their trusted position in their communities, are uniquely suited to help solve challenges of all types, from illiteracy to drug epidemics to distrust in government.

The Public Innovators Lab for Libraries is based on Harwood’s Turning Outward approach, which emphasizes making the community the reference point for getting things done. This shift in orientation is achieved through practical steps: taking measures to better understand communities; being proactive about community issues; and putting community ambitions first.

Libraries and library professionals around the country are using the Harwood Institute’s approach to:

  • lead conversations with community members to better understand their goals and concerns
  • develop library strategic plans that benefit the library and the greater community
  • connect with underserved segments of the library’s service area
  • overcome political gridlock
  • create professional development opportunities that meet the library system’s needs

Read additional success stories of libraries using the Harwood Institute’s Turning Outward approach.

The Public Innovators Lab for Libraries is offered as part of the ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) initiative. The initiative addresses a critical need within the library field by developing and distributing new tools, resources and support for librarians to engage with their communities in new ways.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 57,000 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

The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation is a national nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, Maryland, 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.