Go Out & Play: Community Engagement through 'Turning Outward'

The first step in making change is talking to your community. Three public libraries explain how to get started using The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation's "turning outward" approach.

1 hour
Representatives of Red Hook Public Library speak to residents in their homes

All communities have challenges. Libraries can help conquer them — given the right tools. Learn how Columbus (Wis.) Public Library, Red Hook (N.Y.) Public Library, and Spokane County (Wash.) Library District are bringing residents, local organizations and city leaders together to tackle a variety of issues using the “turning outward” approach.

Created by The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, the step-by-step “turning outward” process is being used by libraries and nonprofits across the country to engage communities and help bring about positive change. Learn how you can facilitate more effective community conversations, build stronger partnerships and take more effective action on the issues that the community views as most important. In this 60-minute introduction, representatives of Columbus Public Library, Red Hook Public Library, and Spokane County Library District will share how they are using the free “turning outward” tools to be intentional with resources, realign day-to-day library operations, and succeed in community relationships outside of the building. This webinar is offered as part of ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) initiative.


Erica Freudenberger, director, Red Hook (N.Y.) Public Library (joined by Brent Kovalchik, deputy mayor, Village of Red Hook)

Freudenberger is a "promiscuous collaborator" who believes libraries can help communities transform. When not chasing people down to do stuff with her, she leads the Red Hook Public Library, designated a 5-star library by Library Journal, and a finalist for the Best Small Library in America. And of course, she was delighted to be part of the LTC Public Innovators Cohort. 

Cindy Fesemyer, director, Columbus (Wis.) Public Library

Librarianship is Fesemyer's second career, following 14 years in nonprofit administration and community organizing. Upon her 2012 graduation from UW-Madison SLIS, Fesemyer was pleased as punch to accept the position of Library Director at the Columbus Public Library in Wisconsin. Turns out community engagement is much more fun and effective as a public librarian, so she's never looking back. 

Amber Williams, librarian, Spokane County (Wash.) Library District

Williams has been with the Spokane County Library District for over nine years. As the current Deer Park Community librarian her focus is to integrate the library into the city of Deer Park. When she's not attending meetings, events, judging poetry slams and Lego contests, Williams is working with youth and implementing fun.