By Cindy Fesemyer, director, Columbus Public Library
Selecting the correct partners -- and keeping those relationships positive and productive -- is essential to the "turning outward" process. A new archived webinar is now available to help you forge and maintain these connections.
As you use the "turning outward" approach, it is important to bring your team together to discuss and reinforce what you are learning. Held every four weeks, these meetings offer an opportunity to ask "what are we learning?" — instead of “what are we doing?” This process helps you reflect and maintain a turned-outward mindset.
In the "turning outward" approach, community conversations are a way to tap into your community's aspirations and concerns. These conversations consist of 10 questions, last 90 minutes to two hours, and are designed for groups of 6 to 15 people. The goal is to authentically engage members of the community and generate Public Knowledge that can be used to inform decision-making of all kinds.
San José Public Library is part of the Libraries Transforming Communities Public Innovators Cohort, a group of 10 public libraries chosen to undergo an extensive 18-month training in the “turning outward” approach. In May, a team of five San José librarians and community partners attended a three-day training taught by Harwood Institute educators in Denver.
Libraries around the country are already putting the “turning outward” approach to work in their communities. Alice Knapp is interim president at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, Conn.; in October 2013, she attended a Harwood Institute Public Innovators Lab. Here, Knapp tells ALA about her library’s experience with the “turning outward” approach.