Libraries have the potential to inspire local dialogue on timely issues across communities, positioning library staff as trusted facilitators. Join us for this free one-hour webinar to hear how New York Public Library created a conversation series on important issues in the diverse communities they serve.
In February 2017, the New York Public Library (NYPL) launched a Community Conversations pilot with the goal of further establishing branch libraries as key civic convening centers, providing space, information and quality discussion for communities to better understand and problem-solve around local issues.
Aligning with the ALA Public Programs Office’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative, NYPL’s Adult Programming and Outreach Services (ORS) Office developed an original 11-month training program with staff from 16 branch libraries that resulted in a series of unique, community-led programs.
Program boundaries were kept flexible enough for branch staff to be able to design programs with their own diverse neighborhood communities in mind. Branches experimented with a variety of tactics to ensure community focus, including community issue voting boards, a public planning committee, community-mapping and final program sessions that invited attendees to discuss next steps.
Participants of this session will learn:
- Best practices and lessons learned from NYPL’s Community Conversations programming
- How to launch successful location-based Community Conversations initiatives that build partnerships and engage staff in new ways
- Specific dialogue-driven program models that can be used as templates for programs in libraries across geographic locations
Alexandra Kelly Berman is the manager of adult programming and outreach services at the New York Public Library, where she works with library staff across 88 neighborhood branches to introduce programs for local adult communities, including the recent Community Conversations pilot. Alexandra began at NYPL by developing and leading the successful multi-branch Community Oral History Project. Before working at NYPL, she was a facilitator at StoryCorps and received an M.A. from the School of Media Studies at The New School, where she also acted as director of student services + engagement. She has also launched several youth media projects around New York City, including an oral history project in Crown Heights, The Engage Media Lab program at The New School, and a documentary filmmaking project at Brooklyn Children's Museum.
Andrew Fairweather is a librarian at the New York Public Library's Seward Park branch in the Lower East Side. He is fervent in his belief that the library can serve as a unique platform for discussion about tricky issues and current events. He enjoys painting and drawing when not occupied with library work. Andrew's interest in any one subject is incredibly unfaithful — he will read (most) anything as a result.
Nancy Aravecz is a senior adult librarian at the Jefferson Market branch of The New York Public Library. In this role, she focuses on providing top-notch discussion-based programming to the Greenwich Village community, centered around information literacy, technology, current events and classic works of literature. She is a recent graduate of Kent State University’s MLIS program, where she studied digital libraries. She also holds a previous MA degree in English Language and Letters from New York University, where her studies centered around literary theory and criticism, postcolonial studies and the digital humanities.