Building an Ecology for Creative Collisions

Posted by Amy Garmer on January 18, 2019 at 10:05 AM

The Aspen Institute is pleased to announce the release of Creative Collisions: New Directions for Learning, Innovation and Community, a report of the Stockton-San Joaquin County Dialogue on Public Libraries by Sarah Carpenter and Joaquin Alvarado. The Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries partnered with the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library (SSJCPL) to bring together a diverse group of leaders to collaborate on developing next generation initiatives for libraries across San Joaquin County.

The report is available online at


This report highlights opportunities for leveraging public libraries to advance learning, health and civic renewal in the Stockton region and to cultivate stronger local and regional cultures for innovation. The city of Stockton is at the leading edge of advancing bold new initiatives, with a dynamic young mayor, business leaders and institutions committed to creating new educational and economic opportunities for all residents. San Joaquin County embodies many of the complexities of California and the nation: urban, suburban and rural communities coexist within its borders and, as the report’s authors write, the county “is impacted deeply by the economic forces of the technology driven Bay Area and the agriculturally dominant Central Valley.” 

Creative Collisions: New Directions for Learning, Innovation and Community presents a set of recommendations for working with public libraries to foster collaboration and seek equitable and human-centered responses to complex challenges. It addresses mechanisms for funding, piloting and growing new approaches in five critical areas that connect with priorities and initiatives that are actively championed by other leaders and organizations in the community. These include:

  • Early Learning and Literacy: The report recommends the adoption of "10-4 Stockton," an ambitious goal for enrolling 10,000 more children in pre-kindergarten programs over the next five years. While 10,000 new pre-K students in five years was seen an aspirational goal, dialogue participants encouraged thinking big and then beginning to explore how the library can work with others in the community to create new spaces for accredited preschool programs in city and county libraries, and how to leverage library resources to overcome barriers to enrollment. 
  • Adult Learning and Enrichment: The report recommends that the library pilot new “Learning Salon” activities to expand learning and enrichment opportunities for adults in the community. Toward this goal, SSJCPL is exploring how to bring virtual tours and experiences to community members via livestreaming and seeking community input on presenters and subjects for the Learning Salons.
  • Economic and Workforce Development: The report recommends developing the library’s role as a backbone collaborator for workforce development and the development of human capital. SSJCPL is working on plans to engage local employers in conversation about the skills they are seeking for their workplaces. Special focus will be given to local entrepreneurs and artisans and developing new services and programs to meet their needs.
  • Civic Engagement: The report documents the need to lift the voices of marginalized communities throughout the region. The library is identifying and developing new and deeper partnerships with community groups to advance a campaign for engagement and civility and to create other opportunities for residents to share their stories, such as building on the California Listens program at the library.
  • Community Health and Wellness: The report recommends creating a pop-up kitchen in the library to advance healthy eating as a component of building health and community wellness. A pop-up kitchen connected to the library would maximize what is being learned from the commercial kitchen space that the city of Stockton already supports. It could also overlap with workforce development by offering badges or certificates for skills learned and expand opportunities for young people to gain experience in culinary arts.

The Stockton-San Joaquin Dialogue on Public Libraries was one in a series of Aspen Institute dialogues across California in 2018 that were designed to spark new thinking and action to transform libraries for the 21st century. The focal point of the project was a day-long leadership roundtable that took place at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, on September 7, 2018. 

Creative Collisions: New Directions for Learning, Innovation and Community was released to Dialogue participants and community members and discussed at a special event, "Aspen Dialogue: Moving Forward" hosted by SSJCPL at the Cesar Chavez Central Library in Stockton on Thursday, January 17, 2019.

To learn more about the issues and opportunities discussed in Stockton, download and read the report at Check out the other California Dialogue reports on under the Resources tab.

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