ALA awarded IMLS grant to offer free community engagement training for libraries

The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office has been awarded $243,922 by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program for a two-year professional development project that will train library professionals in community leadership techniques like coalition-building and dialogue facilitation.
 
Through Libraries Transform: Community Engagement Models for Change, ALA will offer a series of web-based and in-person workshops, all free of charge for participants and specially designed for public and academic libraries.
 
ALA will partner with several change-making leaders — such as the National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD), Everyday Democracy, National Issues Forum and World Café — to develop and lead the trainings. Courses will be customized to meet the needs of various library types and sizes: small, medium-sized and rural public libraries; large public library systems; and academic libraries.
 
Library professionals serving small and rural communities will be invited to apply for 25 scholarships to defray the cost of travel and lodging for in-person workshops.
 
Through a partnership with ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries, all participants will receive digital badges in recognition of their participation.
 
More information, including a training schedule and application instructions for in-person sessions, will be announced in the coming months. To be informed as details become available, sign up for ALA’s Programming Librarian newsletter.
 
Libraries Transform: Community Engagement Models for Change is based on the idea that libraries have a unique capacity to support healthy, sustainable communities.
 
“In today’s changing library landscape, it is increasingly clear that skills like facilitation and consensus-building are vital competencies for library professionals,” said ALA President Julie Todaro. “ALA has been a champion of community engagement work for years, and we’re excited that this IMLS support will provide libraries and librarians even more resources to aid them in this important work.”
 
In 2014 and 2015, ALA completed Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC), a two-year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that introduced hundreds of libraries to the “Turning Outward” approach, a set of community engagement techniques created by The Harwood Institute for Public Engagement. Libraries Transform: Community Engagement Models for Change will expand upon that work by offering library-focused training and resources about a variety of models so libraries can select those that best suit their needs.
 
Like the resources developed through LTC, all materials created for Libraries Transform: Community Engagement Models for Change will be available online for all libraries, free of charge.