The 12 steps to a community-led library

For Immediate Release
Tue, 12/19/2023


Rob Christopher

Marketing Coordinator

ALA Publishing & Media

American Library Association


CHICAGO — Libraries want to be more responsive to their diverse communities. Yet many libraries lack the structures, cultures, and mindsets to sustain community-led methods. “The 12 Steps to a Community-Led Library,” published by ALA Editions, lays out an evidence-based process that will help you transform your library in ways that serve your unique community effectively. Whether you’re an administrator, middle manager, or front-line library worker, the concrete strategies presented here will show you how to integrate community-led planning into your day-to-day activities. Anchored in original research by authors Audrey Barbakoff and Noah Lenstra, this book:

  • introduces the foundations of community-led planning, including what it means, why it matters, and how to do it well;
  • takes you through a twelve-step process, adaptable to libraries of any size or budget and serving any type of community, to fundamentally shift your organization towards more equitable and community-centered ways of thinking;
  • presents strategies for success, pitfalls to avoid, lessons from case studies, and key takeaways for each step; and
  • offers tools to assess your organization’s capacity, evaluate your progress, adapt, and troubleshoot.

Barbakoff is the CEO of Co/lab Capacity LLC, which provides community-centered consulting for libraries and social good organizations. During more than a decade in public libraries, her work was recognized by Library Journal Movers & Shakers, the Urban Libraries Council Top Innovators, and the Freedom to Read Foundation. She is also author of “Adults Just Wanna Have Fun: Programs for Emerging Adults” and the forthcoming picture book “The Schlemiel Kids Save the Moon.” Lenstra is an associate professor of library and information science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he brings a community organizing approach to the teaching and research of public librarianship. Since 2016, Dr. Lenstra has managed the Let’s Move in Libraries initiative, an online space for sharing stories and resources related to public library participation in community health initiatives related to food or physical activity.

ALA Store purchases fund advocacy, awareness and accreditation programs for library and information professionals worldwide. ALA Editions | Neal-Schuman publishes resources used by library and information professionals, scholars, students, and educators to improve programs and services, build on best practices, enhance pedagogy, share research, develop leadership, and promote advocacy. ALA authors and developers are leaders in their fields, and their content is published in a variety of print and electronic formats. Contact ALA Editions | Neal-Schuman at