For immediate release | June 13, 2012

Rich Harwood to discuss reclaiming Main Street and libraries at ALA Annual Conference

WASHINGTON, D.C. —A recent study revealed that many Americans feel that the country is lost amid a sea of changes and that they crave more openness, simpler living, humility and compassion. They want to kick-start a new trajectory for the country that begins with small, local actions.

Richard C. Harwood, president and founder of the nonprofit Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, will discuss these and other key findings from his recently released Main Street study during his session “Reclaiming Main Street and Libraries” from 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. on Sunday June 24, 2012 in the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center room 207A.

Harwood will focus on the potential for libraries to strengthen their role in communities and civic life during his discussion at the conference. This session will give ALA members from all types of libraries the opportunity to consider the implications of the Main Street study for our work as agents of democracy, ranging from building public dialogue skills and engaging a variety of communities at the local level to lobbying and galvanizing grass roots action at the national level. The ALA Annual Conference is one of the first stops on Harwood’s national tour.

In early 2012, Harwood presented on community engagement at the 2012 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Dallas, where hundreds of people attended conversations to better understand how libraries can respond to changing communities.

“People want to reengage and connect with one another,” Harwood said at the midwinter meeting. “They want to come back into the public square. They want to join with each other to make a difference, not only in their own lives, but in our common lives.”

“Libraries have been turning outward,” American Library Association President Molly Raphael said at the midwinter meeting, “but we have tended to look at needs rather than build on positive elements within our communities.”

ALA President-Elect Maureen Sullivan will continue the work when she becomes the ALA president in June 2012 by engaging the Harwood Institute to develop a sustainable program that supports library leaders and next-generation librarians to engage their communities in innovative ways.

“I want ALA to have a meaningful and sustainable program available to all members,” Sullivan said. “Through this effort, I hope ALA and our members will discover new partners and new possibilities for involvement in our communities.”

The session “Reclaiming Main Street and Libraries” is co-sponsored by the ALA Center for Civic Life, the ALA Committee on Legislation, the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee and ALA Public and Cultural Programs Advisory Committee.


About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 60,000 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.



Jazzy Wright

Communications Specialist

Washington Office (WASH)