Libraries Transforming Communities

All communities have challenges. Public librarians are in a unique position to help conquer them — given the right tools.

Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) is an ALA initiative that seeks to strengthen librarians’ 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 librarians to engage with their communities in new ways.

As a result, we believe libraries will become more reflective of and connected to their communities. They may build stronger relationships with local civic agencies, non-profits, funders and corporations. And improved partnerships will yield greater community investment in civility, collaboration, education, health, and well-being.

The greatest goal of LTC is long-term: to shift the public discourse away from prevalent past themes about libraries in crisis and toward one of libraries as agents of positive community change. With this in mind, ALA is committed to championing success stories of library-led community innovation; identifying efforts, changes and trends in the field; and working to amplify them to promote an exchange of information and a change in the library narrative.

Areas of Concentration

LTC consists of three areas of concentration:

  • LTC Public Innovators Cohort: ALA has selected 10 public libraries across the country to participate in an intensive 18-month, team-based community engagement training program. The libraries will train with community-engagement experts and apply the training to challenges in their communities.
  • Knowledge-sharing: ALA is committed to sharing LTC knowledge and resources with library professionals through conference sessions and free digital materials, including webinars, worksheets and conversation guides.
  • ALA staff training: ALA is working internally to integrate community-focused thinking and processes into our own organization.

Project Partners

ALA’s partner in LTC is the nonprofit Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, whose “turning outward” approach emphasizes changing the orientation of institutions and individuals from internal (institutional) 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 to community issues; and putting community aspirations first.

LTC is made possible through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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