Have you thought about using the Turning Outward to Your Community step-by-step guide to better understand and connect with your library’s community? In this month’s MLS Community Engagement Blog interview, Jean Canosa Albano, Assistant Director for Public Services at the Springfield City Library, shares her experience and insights from participating in the Libraries Transforming Communities initiative.
How did your library “turn outward to your community” using the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation’s process?
Jean Canosa Albano: We are part of the Libraries Transforming Communities cohort, having received a grant from the American Library Association to learn about the Harwood Institute’s philosophy and methods of community engagement. My team of five staff members traveled to Denver, Chicago, and San Francisco for intensive training, and we learned about reframing the community narrative away from the negative (“we’ve tried that before,” “in the old days it worked better like this,” and “nothing ever works”) to a more positive, aspirational narrative (“we should have more opportunities to be outside in the community,” “a better mentorship network will help our community,” and “more discussion and conversation will lead to better coordination between neighbors and community agencies”). We learned how to turn outward, and base our policy and programmatic decisions on what we know about the community, rather than sitting around a board room, drawing on statistics, census data, and what other libraries are doing. Continue reading