LTC Blog

Libraries Transforming Communities

Red Hook Makes: From Borrowed Van to Mobile Maker Lab

Photo by Sara Dunn, River Chronicle

Red Hook (N.Y.) Public Library is one of 10 libraries taking part in an intensive 18-month training in the “turning outward” approach. Here, library director Erica Freudenberger describes how her library's work with the Harwood Institute is helping them step outside their normal routine and bring services to those who need them. (Photos by Sara Dunn, River Chronicle.)

Learn to lead positive community change at ALA 2015

All communities have challenges. Libraries are uniquely positioned to help conquer them — given the right tools.

ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition: San Francisco, June 25-30, 2015

Join ALA and The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation at ALA's 2015 Annual Conference on Saturday, June 27, for a series of four learning sessions to teach libraries to leverage their trusted position in the community to engage people on issues that matter. (Register now.)

“Turning Outward to Lead Change in Your Community” will demonstrate practical tools to aid in decision-making, facilitation and leadership. Each stand-alone session focuses on a single tool; taken together, they become a powerful framework for engaging community and leading change.

Attend one session or all four:

ALA invites member feedback at Kitchen Table Conversations at 2015 Annual Conference

As part of an ongoing effort to improve member experience, the American Library Association (ALA) will host a series of gatherings at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition to receive feedback about how it is communicating with current and prospective members.

In the 90-minute Kitchen Table Conversations, ALA staff and member leaders will ask volunteers a series of open-ended questions about their interactions with ALA. Topics may include joining and renewing, streamlining email communications, and how ALA can help members get the information they need. A note-taker will be present to record comments, but they will be kept anonymous.

The conference will be held June 25 to 30 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.

The Kitchen Table Conversations are open to all conference-goers, regardless of membership status, and will be held at the following times. All gatherings will take place in the Marriott Marquis San Francisco Walnut room. (Follow the links to add the times to your Scheduler.)

Politicking the Delicate Balance between Tradition and Change

Columbus (Wis.) Public Library is one of 10 libraries taking part in an intensive 18-month training in the “turning outward” approach. Here, Library Director Cindy Fesemyer talks about how her library is getting communication flowing between different factions of her changing town.
 

Springfield City Library: Turning Outward to Fight Violence

Springfield (Massachusetts) City 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. Here, Mason Square Branch Supervisor Jeff Lambert discusses how the training has led to programs to combat violence.
 

Close the Book on Hunger: Knox County Public Library's Food Drive Success

Knox County (Indiana) 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. Here, Library Director Emily Bunyan describes how informal conversations with Internet users led to a successful food drive.

The Close the Book on Hunger food drive was conducted in June 2014 and was the most successful food drive we’ve ever conducted. In Harwood labs in which I’ve participated, offered both for United Way and Libraries Transforming Communities, I’ve been reminded that "turning outward" is an approach, a way of thinking that becomes a natural part of the thought process. Here’s an example from the Knox County Public Library (KCPL). 

Ferguson Library Director Gets Standing Ovation at ALA 2015 Midwinter Meeting

Scott Bonner speaks at ALA 2015 Midwinter Meeting

Scott Bonner, director of the Ferguson Municipal Public Library in Ferguson, Mo., didn't expect to find his library in a crisis situation. And he certainly didn't have time to prepare.

On Sunday, Feb. 2, at ALA's 2015 Midwinter Meeting, Bonner shared his experiences leading his library through the chaos that followed the August 9 police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. (Listen to the audio of Bonner's presentation.)

Ferguson Library Director to Speak at ALA 2015 Midwinter Meeting

Scott Bonner, director of the Ferguson Municipal Public Library

Libraries and their staffs are agents of positive community change, even under the most challenging and tension-filled circumstances.

Ferguson (Missouri) Municipal Public Library Director Scott Bonner will discuss the recent turmoil in his community — and how the library managed to lead through it — at the American Library Association’s (ALA) 2015 Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Chicago.

Root for Columbus: It Took a Village to Make Our Tree

By Cindy Fesemyer, director, Columbus Public Library

Columbus (Wis.) Public Library is one of 10 libraries taking part in an intensive 18-month training in the “turning outward” approach. Here, Cindy Fesemyer describes the Root for Columbus project, in which her library is sending a “wishing tree” around town to collect residents’ aspirations for Columbus. Not only is the exercise getting people thinking, but it’ll result in data that will help the library in the next phase of the process: tackling the challenges that are most important to residents.

Root for Columbus: A place where everyone is respected for who they are

"Skokie Library Sets Sights on Engaging Community More"

Skokie (Ill.) Public Library was featured in the Chicago Sun-Times' Skokie Review recently for its work convening Harwood Institute-style community conversations.
 
The library -- which has taken part in two ALA/Harwood Institute Public Innovators Labs in 2013 and 2014 -- is hosting a series of private and public gatherings to learn about their residents' aspirations.
 
"We're really focused on listening to what the community wants -- the kind fo community they want to live in -- and then using that information to help drive our planning and the kind of partnerships we engage in and the kind of initiatives we participate in," librarian Susan Carlton, manager of the Community Engagement Department, told the newspaper.
 
 
 

 

New Resources Available: Partner Selection and Managing Relationships

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.

More tools, including webinars, conversation guides and worksheets, are available on the "Resources for Libraries" page.

New Resources Available: Holding Innovation Spaces

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.

Two new resources are now available to help you hold these gatherings:

San Jose Public Library: Navigating a Community Conversation with Language Barriers

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. Here, librarian Randall Studstill describes his team’s experience hosting a community conversation with non-native English speakers. (For tools and webinars about hosting community conversations, visit Resources for Libraries.)

 

"Share a Coke": A Creative Tip for Getting Staff Involved

One of the first steps in the “turning outward” approach is to convene conversations with members of your own organization. Several Harwood Institute tools — including Aspirations, Turn Outward and Intentionality — are designed to help teams assess their current community engagement efforts and shift their orientation from internal (putting their institution first) to external (putting their community first).

'Turning Outward' in Practice: Q&A with Jill Skwerski of Evanston Public Library

Jill Skweski, Evanston (Ill.) Public LibraryLibraries around the country are already putting the “turning outward” approach to work in their communities. Jill Skwerski is a community engagement librarian at Evanston (Ill.) Public Library; in October 2013, she attended a Harwood Institute Public Innovators Lab with members of her staff. Here, she tells ALA her library’s experience with the Harwood Institute’s “turning outward” approach. (Access the resources Skwerski mentions with the links below, or visit Resources for Library Professionals.

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