Alice Knapp - Photo.jpg

Alice Knapp

President, The Ferguson Library

How has your work been impacted by the Turning Outward practice?

The better question is what hasn't been impacted?  Maybe the business office. Every year since 2013, we have sent one or two staff members to the Harwood Institute. As we plan programs and services , and add to the collection, we now include as part of our world view--will this align with the community's priorities?

How do you view the role of libraries in your community?

The tagline for The Ferguson Library is "the heart of the community." Of course, we think of the heart as a symbol of love and compassion and I don't want to understate that part of our role.  For someone who is outside of society, we are that welcoming and safe place. Staff will be compassionate. I also think our role is to provide the oxygen enriched blood to the brain.  We provide the content--either books, databases, programs, or conversations--that engages the mind. The individual mind can grow as it is fed as can the collective mind. The library is pump that drives the content through the community.

What would you say to a library professional who aims to make more positive, lasting impact on their community?

Attend the Harwood Institute's Innovation Lab. Well that is a short answer but it is in attending a professional development opportunity such as the Innovation Lab that one learns how to see the world differently.  We need to learn how to turn outward and listen to our community and then apply our professional knowledge to potential solutions.

What are some of your aspirations for your library, your community, and our larger society?

The Ferguson Library is involved in two collective impact projects. We also collaborate or partner with over 80 local organizations.  And that is just the beginning of the future. My aspiration for The Ferguson Library is that every service has at least one other collaborator/partner.  When we realize that we know that we are truly listening to the community and are no longer prescriptive.