I'm interested in Community Engagement

How do libraries become the centers of their campuses and communities? Library professionals actively engage in dialogue with users and citizens to understand their needs, interests, and aspirations. Join these sessions to learn best practices for community engagement. 

Interested in other topics? Check out the conference scheduler and use the drop down "Subject" search field or visit the interests pages to see other topics. 


Nothing About Us Without Us! Engaging the Community in Creating Disability Friendly Libraries
Saturday 9:00 – 10:00AM
Interested in making your library more inclusive? Consult the experts – people with disabilities! This panel of librarians, with and without disabilities, can help you identify the self-advocates in your community, create linkages with self-advocacy agencies and develop a plan to include people with disabilities in the planning of your library’s services.

Zine Cultures as Critical Resistance: A Hands-On Workshop to Build Community Engagement and Student Learning
Saturday 9:00 – 10:00AM
A panel of zinesters, zine librarians and cultural scholars will convene a conversation addressing critical practices of literary and artistic resistance within zine cultures. Zines as a medium and platform are texts of subculture that resist dominant social hierarchies in favor of self-made and independently circulated ideas, distributed among community-based networks, and published outside of traditional publishing structures in many different parts of the world.

PLA’s DigitalLearn: New Course Topics, New Partnerships, and New Ways to Engage Your Community
Saturday 9:00 - 10:00AM
The Public Library Association's (PLA) DigitalLearn project (http://www.digitallearn.org) is a collection of self-directed tutorials for end-users to increase their digital literacy. Launched in 2013, the site provides courses on the most basic skills, such as using a computer, creating an email address, navigating a web site, and searching for jobs online. All courses are video-based with narration, approximately 6 to 22 minutes long, and are written at the fourth-grade reading level. Since its launch, the usage of DigitalLearn has notably increased to approximately 20,000 users per year. Join us for an update about the advancements of DigitalLearn in 2018, including how DigitalLearn is being used by organizations like Cox and IBM, the development of new courses related to searching online for credible health information and filling out online job applications, and a discussion about the extensive suite of tools and resources on DigitalLearn for educators and trainers of digital literacy courses. 

Learning to Listen: Supporting Youth Mental Health at Your Library
Saturday 10:30 – 11:30AM
Treating everyone equally doesn't mean treating people the same. Let's face it, teens who use the library are different from the rest of your customers. Where will I go to school? How will I pay for my education? Can I ever afford to live on my own? This session will share strategies that can help you serve your community, programming ideas that can get your library on the right track, and staff training tips that can help you identify a youth in crisis and how to effectively intervene.

Stronger Together: Public-Private Partnerships for Digital Literacy
Saturday 10:30 – 11:30AM
Bringing millions of people online to fully participate in today’s digital world is a big job, and libraries have long been leaders. But how do you leverage and strengthen library assets to best meet this critical community need? PLA and Cox Communications teamed up with three local libraries in 2017 to help answer this question, with a commitment to collecting and sharing key learnings from the public-private partnership. Together, these partners developed and offered digital literacy training - online and in person - to their communities, and implemented unique format, marketing, and evaluation strategies that every library can learn from. 

Transforming Community Relationships through Dialogue
Saturday 10:30 – 11:30AM
In this session, you will learn about the power of convening community members in courageous conversations on sensitive topics including diversity and equity concerns. Throughout the country, libraries offer welcoming, inclusive, as well as brave civic spaces conducive to democratic discourse. They are helping citizens of all ages and backgrounds work together to find common ground and solve critical public problems. Through such deliberative dialogue, citizens get to know each other, learn together, frame issues of common concern, deepen understanding, and connect across the spectrum of thought. 


Conversation as a Model of Engagement With Library Users Experiencing Homelessness
Sunday 10:30 – 11:30AM
How does working with people experiencing homelessness to identify their needs, instead of offering the programming library staff believe is needed and/or wanted, change library programming? Will structured, but informal conversations help staff engage with patrons, regardless of housing status?  During this session, we will share our story of how even informal dialogue opens the door to engagement with patrons and allows us to learn from our community. 

Public Libraries: Leading Communities in Family Engagement
Sunday 1:00 – 2:00PM
In 2017, the Public Library Association and the Global Family Research Project released the Ideabook: Libraries for Families publication, helping public libraries use a five “Rs” framework—reach out, raise up, reinforce, relate, and reimagine—to develop meaningful, lasting relationships with families in their communities. This session will review the state of family engagement based on research in the education field and among library directors, and explain the new public library framework and how it can be applied to library programs, professional development, community partnerships and strategic planning. 

Rebranding and Hitting the Reset Button on Community Engagement: Learn How to Evaluate a Program’s Market Position
Sunday 2:30 – 3:30PM
At the ten-year milestone, the University of Washington Health Sciences Library began reassessing the position of one of its flagship programs: a unique statewide on-call medical library known as HEALWA, created through state legislation in 2007. Developed to provide equal access to evidence based resources for practitioners in 24 different disciplines across the state, HEALWA is a beacon to many in their fields for achieving access to resources they would never be able to afford in practice, though based on registrations and usage data the program is still one of the state’s best kept secrets. UW and HEALWA began to reevaluate their market position as well as their relationships with valuable stakeholders across the state. HEALWA staff will present how they determined that it was time to rebrand HEALWA and what they did to strengthen current stakeholder relationships as well as establish new relationships


Update on Promoting Healthy Communities: A Health Information Initiative 
Monday 1:00 - 2:00PM
In 2017, the Public Library Association (PLA) and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) partnered to implement Promoting Healthy Communities: A Health Information Initiative. The aim of this initiative was to increase public library workers’ knowledge and skills related to consumer health services. Join us for a discussion on what the project has done and how you can benefit. Learn about assessments on identifying the health information needs among public librarians, and how those led to new resources and professional development opportunities for public library staff. Learn how you can join your regional NNLM office at no cost and get access to training, funding, and more. Learn how you can receive certifications that benefit you personally and highlight the role your library has in keeping the community healthy. You will leave this session with inspiration, resources, and ideas for your library and community.

A Library for Everyone: Community Centered Design to Promote Inclusive Librarianship
Monday 4:00 - 5:00PM
Research has shown that libraries are valuable informal learning spaces, rich with opportunities to gain knowledge and make meaning in our complex society. However, libraries are not always able to effectively connect with their diverse communities. Design, a theoretical and practical way to provide solutions to problems in today’s society, offers librarians a set of tools, techniques, and theories that harness the role of making in knowledge creation. In this interactive, hands-on speed design session we present 3 quick, easy-to-learn community-centered design techniques to help library staff create more inclusive tools and services for their communities.

Family Engagement Initiative: Resources for Encouraging Families to be Active in their Children’s Learning and Development
Monday 4:00 - 5:00PM
In 2015, the Public Library Association (PLA) initiated its work on family engagement, which aims to assist public libraries in learning about and implementing effective family engagement practices. Early literacy efforts like Every Child Ready to [email protected] your library® (ECRR) support parents and children and create a springboard for new ideas and practices libraries can use to engage families even more successfully. PLA’s work on family engagement helps libraries serve families of all types with children of all ages, and ECRR is the foundation upon which PLA established its Family Engagement Initiative. PLA's Family Engagement Task Force, currently chaired by Clara Bohrer, Director of the West Bloomfield Township Public Library, is working to develop and define best practices and a toolkit of resources that encourage public libraries to more easily provide information, guidance, and opportunities for families to proactively engage in their children’s learning and development. Join us to hear about current activities that the Task Force is working on!