Promise of Libraries Transforming Communities

One of the sessions I attended at this summer’s ALA Annual Conference in Chicago was The Promise of Libraries Transforming Communities: A Presidential Initiative Update Panelists: Maureen Sullivan, President, American Library Association, Alexia Hudson Ward, Mary Wegner, Richard Harwood.  This was a great session which built on the conversation starters held at Mid-Winter in Seattle.  Some key points I gleaned:

  • Library staff needs to shift in how we interact within our communities — this includes public libraries, school libraries, corporate, medical, legal and any type of library — we all have communities that we serve.
  • Look for shared aspirations .. focus on the best rather than on solving problem
  • Turn outward … Do something WITH the community rather than to the community
  • Listen deeply .. Shift programs so they serve the community better .. sharing back
  • Envision your library as a purposeful space in the community
  • Libraries occupy a unique place in our communities .. Public trust .. Safe space — let’s take advantage of our position
  • Restore the emotion that brought us to this vocation .. Needs are cold .. Aspirations are warm fuzzy
  • Get out there and be part of the community … Listen … learn … link … Build relationships

How do you think about the community or do you think about your organization? Do you know your community? How many people don’t you know? Introduce staff to new parts of the community. Think of library users as citizens rather than consumers. Think with authority .. Can you stand on the table and describe the need and wants of people in your community?  We as librarians in our communities have the opportunity at any time to step up and start these conversations.

Discover more about the Promise of Libraries Transforming Communities initiative at