David J. Seleb

Executive Director, Oak Park Public Library

How did you first learn about The Harwood Institute?

I was invited in 2013 by a staff member of the American library Association to participate in Harwood's first Public Innovators' Lab especially for libraries. That was my first experience with Harwood.

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

Since my orientation to Harwood in 2013, all my work and the work of the Oak Park Public Library has been guided by our commitment to turning outward. In the years since, our library has sent dozens of staff members to learn about Harwood principles through innovators' labs, we have led conversations to learn about community aspirations, and we have responded to that learning in many ways, including a new strategic plan committed to aspiration-informed strategic priorities.

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

The library is the heart of the community. It is among the most open, accessible, and trusted of all community institutions. It connects people to each other and to the world. It serves all, working to break down barriers and to advance more equitable communities and societies. It is a key component of social infrastructure.

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

You must listen to your community carefully. You must learn, you must act, and you must be intentional and accountable for the choices you make and the priorities you set. You must put community first.

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

Some of our aspirations include providing much needed space for people to come together to learn, to have a conversation, to listen to each other, to find common purpose. They include finding ways to serve the most needy, the most vulnerable, and the most marginalized among us.