In 2014, the Knox County Public Library in Vincennes, IN was one of 10 public libraries in the nation awarded the "Libraries Transforming Communities Public Innovators Cohort Grant." The Public Innovators Cohort is grounded in the Harwood Institute's approach of "turning outward," which emphasizes shifting the institutional and professional orientation of libraries and librarians from internal to external. The grant enabled the Knox County Public Library to develop and implement a plan for community engagement.
In 2014, MCLS also used the tools provided by the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation to create more meaningful engagement with its members and the library community in its two state region. MCLS has used community conversations, a central component of the Harwood process, as a means to open up to the aspirations of the library communities in Indiana and Michigan.
The Harwood Institute is a nonprofit agency that helps people and organizations address community challenges, improve their own effectiveness, and do their work in a way that makes communities stronger. They have developed a model and methodology for civic engagement and libraries of all sizes have begun using this approach to create meaningful engagement with their local communities.
In this session, we will discuss how these tools were used by both the Knox County Public Library to engage with their community and by MCLS to engage with the library community. Results of the Indiana Library Community Conversations held in December 2014 around the state will be shared. Attendees will gain an appreciation of the importance of open-ended conversations with their communities and will learn about the positive impact meaningful engagement can have on their organization and standing in the community. The overview will include hands-on interaction, and they will leave the session with an understanding of the next steps they can take to utilize conversations like this in their communities.
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