ALA invites member feedback at Kitchen Table Conversations at 2015 Annual Conference

As part of an ongoing effort to improve member experience, the American Library Association (ALA) will host a series of gatherings at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition to receive feedback about how it is communicating with current and prospective members.

In the 90-minute Kitchen Table Conversations, ALA staff and member leaders will ask volunteers a series of open-ended questions about their interactions with ALA. Topics may include joining and renewing, streamlining email communications, and how ALA can help members get the information they need. A note-taker will be present to record comments, but they will be kept anonymous.

The conference will be held June 25 to 30 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.

The Kitchen Table Conversations are open to all conference-goers, regardless of membership status, and will be held at the following times. All gatherings will take place in the Marriott Marquis San Francisco Walnut room. (Follow the links to add the times to your Scheduler.)

The listening project is part of ALA’s effort to “turn outward” and better understand and serve its community through a partnership with The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation.

ALA has conducted Kitchen Table Conversations at previous national conferences; past topics have included library advocacy and the ALA conference experience. Previous participants in these conversations have said they welcome the opportunity to sit down with other attendees to share their thoughts and ideas with ALA.  

The “turning outward” approach is also helping libraries engage their communities. 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.

Interested conference attendees can learn more about the approach at a series of four free, hands-on sessions. The sessions are offered as part of Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC), an ALA initiative that seeks to strengthen libraries’ roles as community leaders and change-agents by developing and distributing tools to help library professionals connect with their communities in new ways. The initiative is made possible through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

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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.

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