ALA, Harwood Institute announce 2019 Public Innovators Lab for Libraries training in Atlanta

For Immediate Release
Fri, 04/26/2019


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office


CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) and The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation announce a 2.5-day training opportunity to help libraries lead positive change in their communities.

The 2019 Public Innovators Lab for Libraries will be held Tuesday, Oct. 15, to Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, at the Loudermilk Conference Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Librarians, community partners and stakeholders in libraries of all types — public, academic, school and special libraries — are invited to attend.

Participants must register online by Oct. 15. The cost is $995 per person, which includes a Public Innovator Lab Book, a Public Innovator Toolkit that you can use with your staff and community partners, and three months of post-Lab enrichment support. Team participation is encouraged.

The Harwood Public Innovators Lab is an intensive workshop that explores the practice of Turning Outward – using the community, not your conference room, as the reference point for library choices and action. Participants will leave the Lab as the next class in a group of over 4,000 library professionals who have learned this approach to community engagement.

Through a combination of discussions, hands-on-activities and breakout groups, participants will learn to:

  • Tap your library's natural value as an authentic center of community engagement;
  • Surface people’s shared aspirations and help bring them to life;
  • Turn Outward and become a steward of public knowledge; and
  • Convene and lead productive and insightful community conversations.

“The Public Innovators Lab was moving, challenging and world-rocking — in the best possible way,” said Erica Freudenberger, former director of the Red Hook (N.Y.) Public Library. Read a case study about Red Hook Public Library’s work with the Harwood Institute.

ALA and the Harwood Institute have collaborated to offer six Public Innovators Labs, and the two organizations worked together on ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) initiative. collaboration 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 illiteracy to drug epidemics to distrust in government.

The Public Innovators Lab for Libraries is 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 and library professionals around the country are using the Harwood Institute’s approach to:

  • lead conversations with community members to better understand their goals and concerns;
  • develop library strategic plans that benefit the library and the greater community;
  • connect with underserved segments of the library’s service area;
  • overcome political gridlock; and
  • create professional development opportunities that meet the library system’s needs.

Read additional success stories of libraries using the Harwood Institute’s Turning Outward approach.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit

About The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation

The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that equips people, organizations, communities and networks with the tools to bridge divides, build capacity and tackle shared challenges. The Harwood Institute's work is rooted in a philosophy of Civic Faith and the practice of Turning Outward. Founded in 1988, the Institute partners with some of the world's largest nonprofits, and its approach has spread to all 50 states across the US and 40 countries around the world. For more information, visit