Free E-Course on Basic Facilitation Skills
"Libraries Transforming Communities: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries" (2020) is a free asynchronous e-course created by the American Library Association (ALA).
Through six modules, it introduces library workers to the basics of leading conversations. (While created for small and rural libraries, the information is relevant to libraries of all sizes and types.)
In the e-course, you will learn:
Conversations in the Library: Getting Started. Module 1 explores what it means to facilitate conversations in the library. You will also learn to develop a plan for getting started leading conversations in your community.
Laying the Groundwork: Planning a Conversation. In Module 2, you will choose a topic for conversation and identify a conversational goal. You will also identify partners and stakeholders that may help in planning or facilitating a community conversation.
Setting the Room: Navigating Logistics and Setting Up a Conversation. In Module 3, you will outline a plan for recruiting participants and partners for your conversation; prepare for necessary logistics; and identify supporting roles to keep your conversation running smoothly.
In the Moment: Leading a Conversation and Managing Group Dynamics. In Module 4, you will learn essential skills for conversational leadership, including ground rules, conversation starters, questions, and techniques for managing challenging behavior.
The Follow-Up: Closing a Conversation and Preparing Next Steps. In Module 5, you will learn how to plan for the end of your conversation, including reaching decisions or reflecting on the experience.
Going Virtual: Technology and Facilitation Approaches for Online Conversations. When ALA set out to create this course, we were living in a pre-COVID world; there was little concern around hosting a roomful of people for an in-person conversation. Since then, much has changed. In this Bonus Module, we will explore how to facilitate conversations virtually.
LOOKING FOR A CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION? Take the e-course in ALA's eLearning Platform. Simply visit ALA eLearning and create a free account, then search courses for "Libraries Transforming Communities." Click here for detailed instructions.
Also get the companion facilitation guide, "Leading Conversations in Small and Rural Libraries."
What skills do I need? Take our interactive quiz!
Earlier Webinars: Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change
From 2016 to 2018, ALA and the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) recorded the following online learning sessions to help libraries learn about the variety of dialogue and deliberation resources available to them. Whether you are just getting started or looking to expand your current efforts, we hope you will find this information valuable.
Webinars were recorded with specific library/community types in mind; however, you may find webinars for other library types valuable. We encourage you to start with your section but to explore them all.
The American Library Association (ALA) and the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) introduce Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Models for Change, a free learning series that will teach library professionals to lead change in their communities.
In a series of online and in-person classes, attendees will learn how, when and why to facilitate conversations about important topics; how to bring disparate voices together in a productive discussion; and how to translate a conversation into a course of action.
Watch "Libraries Transforming Communities: Models for Change Overview"
The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) gives an overview of the range of models in dialogue and deliberation available to public libraries that serve large or urban communities.
- Gain an understanding of the range of dialogue and deliberation approaches and the types of engagement they address.
- Learn about actual applications of these approaches in libraries.
- Learn and ask questions about the approaches that will best meet their circumstances, engagement goals and resources.
- Learn about resources available to libraries and how to access them.
- Be introduced to the two approaches featured in this webinar series for large public library systems: World Cafe and Everyday Democracy.
Watch "Libraries Transforming Communities: Introduction to Dialogue & Deliberation for Public Libraries Serving Large or Urban Communities"
World Café shares how collaborative dialogue — bringing together large groups of people in a series of small, conversational rounds — allows a larger community to engage in in-depth discussions together.
- Experience the World Café process.
- Learn the structure of World Cafés.
- Learn which topics and issues are best addressed using this process.
- Hear about examples of outcomes from World Cafés.
Everyday Democracy describes how their Dialogue to Change community engagement process can help library professionals bring people together and lead change in their communities.
- Gain a general understanding of Everyday Democracy’s dialogue-to-change process.
- Gain an appreciation of the central principles of community engagement that are part of that process.
- Learn strategies and practices for outreach and engagement in that process.
- Acquire a basic understanding of general principles of inclusion and equity that are central to that work.
Watch "Libraries Transforming Communities: Everyday Democracy's Dialogue to Change Process"
In small, mid-sized and/or rural communities, the public library often becomes a de facto town hall. Through this important social position, libraries have the potential to make the most impactful change in their communities.
In this webinar, the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) provides an overview of the range of models in dialogue and deliberation available to public libraries serving small, mid-sized and/or rural communities.
- Gain an understanding of the range of dialogue and deliberation approaches available and how public libraries serving small, mid-sized and/or rural communities have implemented them.
- Learn and ask questions about best practices for achieving libraries' engagement goals.
- Learn about resources available to libraries and how to access them.
- Be introduced to the two approaches featured in later webinars in this series: Conversation Café and Future Search.
Watch "Introduction to Dialogue & Deliberation for Public Libraries Serving Small, Mid-Sized or Rural Communities"
The Future Search process enables large, diverse groups to validate a common mission, take responsibility for action, and develop commitment to implementation through concrete action plans. In this webinar, lbrary professionals gain an understanding of how Future Search can be used in their internal and community engagement efforts.
- Gain an understanding of the Future Search method and conditions for success.
- Learn the Future Search theory and philosophy of facilitating.
- Explore how libraries can utilize Future Search in their communities.
Conversation Café, a simple, open-source method for small group dialogues on a variety of topics. They are great for helping community members learn more about themselves, their community or an issue, and the process is easily adaptable and requires minimal resources.
- Learn essential elements of hosting a Conversation Café, including format, set-up, timing and promotion.
- Learn facilitation skills using the Conversation Café principles and agreements.
- Understand how to address challenges and promote good dialogue in a café.
Watch "Libraries Transforming Communities: Conversation Cafés"
The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) gives an overview of dialogue and deliberation models suited for academic libraries' unique needs.
- Learn about the range of dialogue and deliberation approaches available and how academic libraries have implemented them.
- Start thinking about their libraries’ engagement goals.
- Learn about resources available to academic libraries and how to access them.
- Be introduced to the two dialogue and deliberation approaches that will be featured later in this webinar series: Essential Partners' Reflective Structured Dialogue and National Issues Forums.
Watch "Introduction to Dialogue & Deliberation for Academic Libraries"
Essential Partners shares how their Reflective Structured Dialogue method can help academic libraries resolve conflicts, restore trust, gain understanding and move toward collaborative action on campus and beyond.
Learn how Essential Partners' Reflective Structured Dialogue method can help create the setting and circumstances needed to hold curious and constructive conversations.
- Learn the pitfalls to avoid to prevent stalled or polarized conversations.
- Explore how academic libraries can help bridge divides on campus and beyond and help participants learn about one another and the world.
Watch "Libraries Transforming Communities: Reflective Structured Dialogue Method with Essential Partners"
National Issues Forums explains how academic librarians can convene deliberative forums on important issues, thereby solidifying their role as a campus center for interdisciplinary and intellectual development while exploring pathways to civic engagement.
Learn why academic libraries should hold deliberative forums.
- Learn how academic libraries can use the NIFI method to bring students together to deliberate, review options and make choices about how to approach difficult issues and work toward creating reasoned public judgment.
- Explore how library professionals can utilize this model for educational offerings, as well as to aid the campus in decision-making.
- Discuss best practices for coordinating and facilitating in-person and online dialogues.
Watch "Libraries Transforming Communities: National Issues Forums"
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).