ALA has released a set of free professional development materials to help library workers in small and rural communities develop the facilitation skills they need to thrive in the 21st-century library.
Free facilitation guide and e-course
Offered through Libraries Transforming Communities: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries , the materials are designed to help library workers prepare for and lead discussions and overcome common challenges that arise when people gather to speak in groups.
- “Leading Conversations in Small and Rural Libraries ,” a practical 30-page guide that covers the basics of leading discussions in the library, including roles and responsibilities, setting ground rules and managing group dynamics.
- “Libraries Transforming Communities: Facilitation Training for Small and Rural Libraries ,” a five-part e-course available on ALA’s eLearning platform. Module 1, “Conversations in the Library: Getting Started,” will be followed by four additional modules to be released monthly this spring. Sign up for the free e-course series  to receive notifications when new modules are added.
“Whether hosting a story time or leading a town hall meeting, library workers today need communication skills to fulfill their broad mission as community educators and leaders,” said ALA President Wanda Brown in November 2019. “Since launching ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative in 2014, library employees from small and rural communities have been asking ALA for facilitation training to help them become better conveners, and we’re proud to deliver with this special project.”
Travel stipend winners named
Additionally, 41 library workers have been selected to receive travel funding to attend a one-day, in-person workshop at the 2020 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, where they will gain hands-on experience with the skills taught in the facilitation guide and e-course. View the stipend recipients. 
The travel funding opportunity, announced in November, was open to library employees who work in small or rural communities with a legal service area population of 25,000 or less, in accordance with the Institute of Museum and Library Service (IMLS) definition . Participants were selected through a competitive, peer-reviewed application process.
Libraries Transforming Communities: Facilitation Skills for Small and Rural Libraries is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant number RE-17-19-0041-19. The initiative is offered by ALA’s Public Programs Office in collaboration with the National Coalition of Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD), the Association of Small and Rural Libraries (ARSL), and the Chief Officers of State Library Associations (COSLA).