For immediate release | February 24, 2014

Librarians as change agents: PLA conference sessions to teach public librarians to 'Turn Outward'

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

The American Library Association (ALA), in collaboration with the Public Library Association (PLA) and the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, will offer a series of sessions at the PLA 2014 Conference that will help librarians leverage their trusted position in the community to engage people on issues that matter.

The PLA 2014 Conference will take place March 11-15 at the Indiana Convention Center & Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The four-part “Turning Outward to Lead Change in Your Community” series is based on the Harwood Institute’s practice of “turning outward,” which emphasizes shifting the institutional and professional orientation of libraries and librarians from internal to external.

  • “Turning Outward to Lead Change in Your Community: Aspirations” (10:45 a.m. to noon Thursday, March 13) will help librarians focus on community aspirations, identify next steps for change and create an aspirations-based story for their community as a starting point for library action.
  • “Turning Outward to Lead Change in Your Community: Turn Quiz” (2 to 3:15 p.m. Thursday, March 13) will introduce librarians to the “Turn Quiz” tool, enabling them to assess the focus of their efforts in the community as they shift their orientation from internal to external.
  • “Turning Outward to Lead Change in Your Community: Intentionality” (10:45 a.m. to noon Friday, March 14) will enable participants to test the external orientation and mindfulness of their community engagement choices and decisions.
  • “Turning Outward to Lead Change in Your Community: Sustaining Yourself” (2 to 3:15 p.m. Friday, March 14) will help librarians personally map the components that feed their motivation and commitment for community work.

All sessions will be led by Harwood Institute educators in Indiana Convention Center room 137-139.

The Harwood Institute’s unique model also serves as the basis for Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC), a groundbreaking initiative promoting a vision of librarians as change agents. Applications are now being accepted for the LTC Public Innovators Cohort, an 18-month, team-based professional development opportunity for public libraries, developed by ALA and the Harwood Institute. The initiative is made possible through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The biennial PLA conference is the premier professional development event for public librarians, public library workers, trustees, vendors and others with an interest in public libraries. The 2014 event will feature more than 150 educational programs, author events and nearly 400 exhibiting companies.

Register for the PLA 2014 Conference.

Related Links…


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office (PPO)