Grounding library work in community engagement

For Immediate Release
Mon, 12/07/2020


Rob Christopher

Marketing Coordinator

ALA Publishing

American Library Association


CHICAGO — Community engagement isn’t simply an important component of a successful library—it’s the foundation upon which every service, offering, and initiative rests. Working collaboratively with community members—be they library customers, residents, faculty, students or partner organizations—ensures that the library works, period. “Ask, Listen, Empower: Grounding Your Library Work in Community Engagement,” published by ALA Editions in cooperation with ALA's Public Programs Office (PPO), provides targeted guidance on how libraries can address a range of issues for the betterment of their community, whether it is a city, neighborhood, campus, or something else. Edited by Mary Davis Fournier and Sarah Ostman, and featuring a Foreword by ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall, it includes contributions by many leaders active in library-led community engagement. Designed to be equally useful as a teaching text for LIS students and a go-to handbook for current programming, adult services, and outreach library staff, this collection explores such key topics as:

  • why libraries belong in the community engagement realm;
  • getting the support of board and staff;
  • how to understand your community;
  • the ethics and challenges of engaging often unreached segments of the community;
  • identifying and building engaged partnerships;
  • collections and community engagement;
  • engaged programming; and
  • outcome measurement.

Fournier is Deputy Director of PPO, where she specializes in national partnerships, new project development, and programs support for public, school and academic libraries. An experienced arts administrator and cultural programmer, her past experiences include directing Chicago’s Printers Row Book Fair (now Lit Fest) and programming for the Miami Book Fair International. She is active in Chicago’s nonprofit community and currently co-chairs the board of Chicago Women in Philanthropy. Ostman is the communications manager for PPO, where she serves as editor of, a web resource for library professionals. Before joining the ALA and the library field in 2014, she spent nearly a decade as a newspaper reporter, editor, and freelance writer.

ALA's Public Programs Office (PPO) empowers libraries to create vibrant hubs of learning, conversation and connection in communities of all types.

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