Posts in Turning Outward
Oak Park Public Library Case Study

How do we engage with our community in a more meaningful way? How do we make the user experience the center of all we do? What impact are we having and how do we measure it? In an effort to better answer those questions and make a tighter connection between library objectives and the broader needs of the community, the Oak Park Public Library embarked on a journey to “turn outward.” Following the Harwood model for community engagement, Oak Park has made strides in unifying its internal operations and strengthening strategic partnerships. Its intention is wider and deeper community impact.

Read More
About my Harwood Experience: From Sit-Ins to Conversations

I didn’t expect to cry when I stood up in front of 125 people in Atlanta, Georgia last week. It wasn’t until I was handed the microphone and opened my mouth to speak that I realized that tears were trying to spring forth. I had to pause to stop the croak of sobbing which tried to come from my throat. I had to pause several times. I want to cry now as I am writing this to you—to you, my community. 

Read More
Taking Action from Your Sphere of Influence

An important ingredient to creating impact is being clear about your sphere of influence and taking action from it. Seems obvious, right? What we find is that there are many people in communities that lack the capacity for grand plans and that there are even more people ready to make a difference but are not in positions to drive such plans. The solution to this is to take action from your sphere of influence.

Read More
Two Paths, One Destination: Culture Change in a Major Library System

The Los Angeles Public Library, a massive library system with a service area of 3.9 million people, joined Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) to generate new ways to deepen their connection to community and help people in communities address issues that mattered to them. The local LTC team started by focusing their work at the Van Nuys Branch, the idea being that if they could demonstrate the power and effectiveness of implementing their training through LTC, it would create a model that could be replicated in other areas of the system. The team saw initial success, but staff changes required them to reevaluate their plans. The team has been working on an alternative strategy that is built on training personnel at all levels across the system to plant the seeds of change and shift the institutional culture.

Read More
Innovative Solutions to Bridging Community Divisions

For much of its history, Columbus was a rural community, but today it is quickly becoming a commuter town. Feeling the effects of this rapid change, the Columbus Public Library joined the Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) initiative to learn how to add more value in the community beyond being a lender of books. Not only has Columbus Public Library built a stronger reputation as an institution that can help solve community challenges, but its director—a newcomer to the community—has become a stronger, more credible community leader in the process.

Read More
Building on a Foundation of Success ... and Going Deep to Go Broad

Hartford Public Library has a long history of community engagement. Through the Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) initiative, the library has deepened that work. Using new training they received from The Harwood Institute through LTC, library staff members reached out to people in an underserved part of town where many people were disengaged. Based on what they learned from residents, library staff have undertaken efforts to improve relationships between residents and important institutions in the neighborhood. As a result, Hartford Public Library is playing an even stronger role as a critical asset to the community and trusted convener.

Read More