Supervising Librarian, Programming and eServices Departments, Fresno County Public Library
Krista Riggs supervises the Programming and eServices Departments at Fresno County (CA) Public Library, leading two amazing and innovative teams in managing electronic resources and creating countywide programs for all ages across 37 library branches. Previously, she served as a cluster supervisor over six branches and as a children’s librarian for 10 years, also with FCPL. She is proud to serve on committees for the California Library Association and the American Library Association’s LLAMA and ALSC divisions, and is excited to help spread principles and practices of the Harwood Institute with others in the library world.
Learn more about Krista Rigg’s work with The Harwood Institute:
How did you first learn about The Harwood Institute?
Our library applied through the California State Library to attend a Harwood Public Innovators Lab for Public Libraries. We were thrilled to be selected, and thrilled again for the opportunity to receive further in-depth training with the amazing Carlton Sears of the Harwood Institute.
How has your work been impacted by the Turning Outward practice?
We’ve seen a definite shift in organizational mindset for how we plan and prioritize programs and work with partners based on community needs. Fresno County has over 35 library branches spread across 6,000 square miles in very unique and diverse communities, from rural and mountain libraries to urban and metro branches. A one-size, cookie-cutter approach to countywide programs and services isn’t practical. Having conversations in the communities we serve has helped FCPL recognize gaps in our offerings and unintentional barriers to relevant and meaningful experiences. We are making more intentional choices in how we use our staffing and resources to maximize relevancy and impact, based on public knowledge instead of assumptions.
How do you view the role of libraries in your community?
With public knowledge gained from two phases of community conversations, FCPL revised its strategic plan, including our mission and vision statements and focus areas/ priorities. Our new mission statement is, “FCPL transforms lives and strengthens communities by providing opportunities to connect, grow, and be inspired.” Our new vision statement is, “A place for anyone. Something for everyone.” We heard recurring themes in conversations throughout our different service areas of a need for a trusted hub of information and a safe place to gather for a sense of community. The library can help fill these roles by being that central location for reliable information and resources while also providing a welcoming space for respectful dialogue and expression of multiple viewpoints. By reaching out to our underserved populations and listening to their aspirations, we can continue building trusting relationships and relevant programs and services that authentically reflect community input and needs.
What would you say to a library professional who aims to make more positive, lasting impact on their community?
Go for it! The hardest part is getting started- jump right in and have community conversations. Celebrate the small steps along with the bigger benchmarks. Surround yourself with a team of positive people that are also community-centered, and establish a mentoring system to support new team members. Involve stakeholders from the beginning but ignore any naysayers, the positive effects of the practice will begin rippling through an organization and its partners and will have a noticeable impact in the community. Reflect often on what’s working well and what can be improved, and check in often with the community.
What are some of your aspirations for your library, your community, and our larger society?
Aspirations for my library include welcoming more of our underserved communities into our branches, and having the infrastructure in place to provide the best, most relevant and meaningful experiences for everyone that visits regardless of background, income, or language spoken. For Fresno County, I would love to see more children starting school with the skills they need to succeed, along with safer, more connected communities with less poverty. For our larger society, my aspiration would be renewed connections based in peace, respect, and harmony – and the same wish as our library’s new vision statement: “A place for anyone. Something for everyone.”