Libraries Transforming Communities: Academic Libraries

Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change

Learning Sessions

Webinar 1: "Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change Overview" (recorded Feb. 9, 2017)

Webinar 2: "Introduction to Dialogue & Deliberation for Academic Libraries" (recorded Sept. 13, 2017)

Webinar 3: "Libraries Transforming Communities: Reflective Structured Dialogue Method with Essential Partners" (recorded Oct. 11, 2017)

Webinar 4: "Libraries Transforming Communities: National Issues Forums" (recorded Nov. 15, 2017)


In-Person Workshop: "Libraries Transforming Communities: National Issues Forums Workshop for Academic Libraries" (held Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, at the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver)

Featured Methods

Essential Partners: Bold Explorations in CommunityEssential Partners’ method, called Reflective Structured Dialogue, helps people with fundamental disagreements over divisive issues develop the mutual understanding and trust essential for strong communities and positive action. It draws on strategies developed by family therapists to promote effective communication in the midst of painful differences. The method also incorporates insights and tools from mediation, interpersonal communications, appreciative inquiry, organization development, and psychology and neurobiology.

The model is characterized by a careful preparatory phase in which all stakeholders/sides are interviewed and prepared for the dialogue process. This approach enables participants to share experiences and explore questions that both clarify their own perspectives and help them become more comfortable around, and curious about, those with whom they are in conflict.

Use Essential Partners’ Reflective Structured Dialogue method when: There is a need to resolve conflicts, encourage community healing after a crisis or trauma, or improve relations among groups in your community. 

Topics suited for this process: Political polarization, Jewish-Muslim relations, race relations, and other value-based conflicts.

Why we chose this model: This method offers an approach to conflict resolution that seeks to restore trust, gain understanding and move toward collaborative action. This allows a campus community to engage deeply with one another on issues where there is great tension, and also could serve as a tool for thorough exploration of diverse perspectives on an issue.

Explore our free Essential Partners learning sessions and resources

National Issues ForumsNational Issues Forums offer citizens the opportunity to join together to deliberate, to make choices with others about ways to approach difficult issues and to work toward creating reasoned public judgment. National Issues Forums is known for its careful issue framing and quality issue guides, which outline three or four different viewpoints.

Forums are neutrally moderated in a way that encourages positive interaction between people who are not expected to agree, but are encouraged to find a shared direction. For two or three hours, participants are led by a neutral moderator who encourages exploration and evaluation of several possible solutions to the issue at hand. Every solution comes with a set of costs and consequences that must be thoroughly measured. Only then do you know which costs participants are willing to bear. 

Use National Issues Forums when: You want to encourage exploration of tough public problems in increase public knowledge of the issue, and/or you wish to influence public decisions and policy. 

Topics suited for this model: Health care, immigration, policing, substance abuse, energy, climate change and more! National Issues Forums has materials in a variety of topics, including historical frameworks for reflecting on big issues in history.

Why we chose this model: This approach to deliberating the tough issues of today is already used in academic settings across the country to engage students and the broader campus community. It allows for deep exploration and evaluation of the options available to address specific issues, which gets participants thinking more deeply about the issue and what is at stake.

Explore our free National Issues Forums learning sessions and resources


These resources are offered as part of Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Models for Change, an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) and National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) that seeks to strengthen libraries' roles as core community leaders and agents of change. LTC: Models for Change is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). 

graphic of a person speaking on a computer screen

Get started with the free e-course, "Libraries Transforming Communities: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries."

LTC: Accessible Small and Rural Communities will offer more than $7 million in grants to better serve people with disabilities.

graphic of a document with a download arrow

Learn basic facilitation skills with ALA's free guide, "Leading Conversations in Small and Rural Libraries."