For immediate release | June 2, 2016

Way to Innovate: Learn how to bring people together and lead change at ALA 2016

Learn how libraries across the country are uniting communities and leading positive change through community engagement at the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando.

“Way to Innovate: How Three Libraries Turned Outward to Lead Change (and You Can, Too)” will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 25, in the Orange County Convention Center Room W304 G-H. All conference attendees are welcome.

The program will feature Rich Harwood, president and founder of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, a nonprofit organization that teaches, coaches and inspires people and organizations to solve pressing problems and change how communities work together. Harwood will discuss libraries’ vital role in transforming communities and how his step-by-step community engagement approach, called “Turning Outward,” can help ignite partnerships and progress.

Speakers from three public libraries will then share how they have used the approach for the past two years to better understand and transform their communities.

  • Erica Freudenberger (director, Red Hook (N.Y.) Public Library, 2016 Library Journal Mover & Shaker), will explain how her small-town library gathered input from residents and used what they learned to reshape how the library served patrons.
  • Richard Frieder (RDF Consulting, former community engagement director, Hartford (Conn.) Public Library) will discuss how a series of community conversations on the subject of police-resident relations led to a powerful partnership that seeks to make Hartford’s low-income neighborhoods safer and stronger.
  • Amber Williams (librarian, Spokane County (Wash.) Library District) will share how community engagement work has become part of the work — and job descriptions — of library professionals across her district, and how that shift, with stumbles and successes, has improved services and strengthened the library’s standing in the community.

Attendees will leave inspired to tackle some of their community’s most pressing challenges and armed with the resources to get started.

Freudenberger, Frieder and Williams were part of ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) Public Innovators Cohort, a group of 10 public libraries selected in 2014 to undergo an extensive, 18-month training in the “Turning Outward” approach. Learn more about the LTC Public Innovators Cohort and access free community engagement tools and resources at

ALA Annual Conference—Transforming Our Libraries, Ourselves
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Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office