Civic Engagement in Seattle

For those of you headed to Seattle for the ALA Midwinter Meeting, we’ve gathered some civic engagement–related programs you might be interested in attending, including information on ALA President Maureen Sullivan’s Promise of Libraries Transforming Communities initiative, a discussion on how to lead community engagement from your library, the ALA President’s Program with speaker Peter Block, and more.

Saturday, January 26

8–10 a.m.

The Promise of Libraries Transforming Communities: A Presidential Initiative

Washington State Convention Center Room 606-607

This groundbreaking libraries-as-change-agents initiative is the beginning of a new partnership between ALA and the Harwood Institute of Public Innovation. ALA President Maureen Sullivan will moderate a panel of public innovators including Richard Harwood, Founder and President of the Harwood Institute; Tim Henkel, President and CEO of Spokane County United Way; and Carlton Sears, past director at Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County and Certified Coach with the Harwood Institute. The session will identify aspirations and anticipated results of the Promise of Libraries Transforming Communities Initiative and highlight transformation experiences from similar partnerships. Funded through a grant from IMLS, the multi-phase initiative’s goal is to provide librarians with the tools and training they need to lead their communities in finding innovative solutions by advancing library-led community engagement and innovation. The conversations at Midwinter are one step in building a sustainable, scalable national plan.

1–2:30 p.m.

Community Engagement Conversation: The Work of Hope

Washington State Convention Center Room 611-614

Join the conversation about advancing library-led community engagement, and see how you can help kick-start a new trajectory in your community. Rich Harwood, President and Founder of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and author of the new book The Work of Hope, will lead this session and share his insights as well as tools that libraries can use to take action and engage with their communities. The Work of Hope finds that people believe we must take small local actions in order to rebuild trust and strengthen relationships and ultimately restore belief in ourselves and one another that we can get things done, together. This hands-on session will provide libraries with resources to begin taking those steps for working with people in their community.

Sunday, January 27

10:30–11:30 a.m.

Libraries Fostering Civic Engagement Member Interest Group

Sheraton-Ballard Room

1–2:30 p.m.

Community Engagement Conversation: Appreciative Inquiry—The Library in the Community

Washington State Convention Center Ballroom 6A

Join the conversation facilitated by author and consultant Peggy Holman, a recognized leader in deploying group processes that directly involve hundreds, or thousands, of people in organizations or communities in achieving breakthroughs. Holman’s work has explored a nascent field of social technologies that engage “whole systems” of people from organizations and communities in creating their own future, and is informed by a fascination with change and how it occurs when the assumptions we take for granted stop functioning as expected. This Sunday session will be facilitated in the spirit of appreciative inquiry.

3:30-5:30 p.m.
Community: The Structure of Belonging with Peter Block (ALA President’s Program)
Washington State Convention Center Ballroom 6A

Peter Block, best-selling author of Community: The Structure of Belonging and widely known for his work on community engagement and reconciliation, will facilitate an interactive discussion about the nature of real transformation and what kind of leadership is required to achieve it as part of the President’s Program. His approach focuses on how to create workplaces and communities that work for everyone in them, with a goal of effecting change through consent and connectedness rather than through mandate and force. This discussion is part of a continuum of conversations and initiatives throughout ALA to advance library-led community engagement, dovetailing with the new Promise of Libraries Transforming Communities initiative. Block is a prolific author. His most recent book, The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods, was co-authored with John McKnight. He is a partner in Designed Learning, a training company, and with other volunteers in Cincinnati started A Small Group, an organization focused on creating a new community narrative and bringing his work on civic engagement into being. Find out more about Block and his work.

Monday, January 28

8:30–11:30 a.m.
Community Engagement Conversation: Change in the Community, Change in ALA
Washington State Convention Center Ballroom 6A

Peggy Holman will use the Open Space approach to continue the conversation, looking at change in the community and change in ALA. Open Space is a philosophy, practice and process that enables groups of any size to come together around complex, important issues and accomplish something meaningful.