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“We are the leaders we have been waiting for." -Grace Lee Boggs, philosopher and activist
The Free Library of Philadelphia is full of leaders, and so are the neighborhoods in which we are located. To foster collaboration with community members and organizations, we are building staff capacity in two ways:
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” — Xun Kuang, philosopher
Imagine trying to learn to knit. Would you learn best by reading a book about knitting? Hearing a friend talk about knitting? Watching an expert knitter? Or learning the basic steps and actually trying to knit?
Our first cohort of staff members participating in the Skills for Community-Centered Libraries training recently learned about and explored team roles and dynamics. Staff reflected on their own strengths and what attributes they bring to a team. Are they great at keeping everything running smoothly? Do they enjoy providing in-depth knowledge?
The Skills for Community-Centered Libraries initiative — a series of trainings meant to build community engagement capacities among staff — launched on Oct. 2, so it’s a good time for the Free Library of Philadelphia’s community organizing team to share what exactly we mean by community engagement. A common definition is a baseline for discussion at workshops and a way to push people’s thinking.
The Aspen Institute’s influential report “Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries” predicts that in the coming years, the most successful public libraries will be the ones with services that prioritize and support local community goals.