For immediate release | September 9, 2014

Reserve your seat in ALA/Harwood Institute ‘Public Innovators Lab for Libraries’ community engagement training

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) and The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation are accepting reservations for an intensive three-day training program to help libraries strengthen their role as agents of positive change in their communities.

The Public Innovators Lab for Libraries will be held Oct. 8 to 10 at the Loudermilk Convention Center in Atlanta. Librarians, community partners and stakeholders in libraries of all types — public, academic, school and special libraries — are encouraged to register.

Participants must register online by Sept. 30. The cost is $1,495 for the first person from an organization and $995 for each additional person. Team participation is encouraged.

Through discussions, hands-on activities and collaborations with like-minded library professionals, participants will learn to:

  • tap libraries' natural values to contribute to the greater good and bring their communities together;
  • draw out people’s shared aspirations for their communities and help bring them to life;
  • convene and lead productive, insightful community conversations;
  • become stewards of public knowledge.

The ALA-Harwood Institute partnership is based on the idea that libraries, by virtue of their trusted position in their communities, are uniquely suited to help solve challenges of all types, from literacy to drug epidemics to distrust in government.

The Public Innovators Lab for Libraries will be based on Harwood’s “turning outward” approach, which emphasizes making the community the reference point for getting things done. This shift in orientation is achieved through practical steps: taking measures to better understand communities; being proactive about community issues; and putting community ambitions first.

“Libraries are undergoing a transformational shift,” said ALA Executive Director Keith Fiels. “They are no longer passive providers of services; they are consensus-builders and a driving force in community change. The ‘turning outward’ approach equips library professionals with the skills they need not only to adapt, but lead.”

Said Rich Harwood, founder and president of The Harwood Institute, “Libraries have increasingly become important places for people to gather and use our approach to engage and work together on the challenges their communities face. We’ve been really pleased to see how many people are realizing that their libraries are places where they can step forward and help create positive, lasting change.”

For more information, visit

The Public Innovators Lab for Libraries is offered as part of the ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) initiative. The initiative 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.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

About The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation

The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation is a national nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, Md., that teaches and coaches people and organizations to solve pressing problems and change how communities work together. The institute is guided by Richard C. Harwood, whose transformational work during the past 25 years has spread to thousands of communities nationally and worldwide, from small towns to large cities.


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office