Dialogue Models

Models

The Aspen Institute’s Dialogue on Public Libraries is focused on advancing the work that public libraries are doing to address community challenges and to transform for the digital age. As part of its work, between 2016 and 2017, the Aspen Institute convened dialogues in cities across the country. Each public dialogue tests and develops a variety of models for engaging state and local leaders and community partners to advance new thinking about the role of public libraries. 

Click on a Dialogue Model in the left panel.

Winter Park Library Dialogue
Winter Park, FL

Winter Park Library Dialogue
Winter Park, FL

Introduction

The Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries convened the Winter Park Library Dialogue in partnership with the Winter Park Public Library in Winter Park, Florida, on June 8-9, 2016. A model for other communities, the Winter Park Library Dialogue was designed to explore and advance the alignment of the public library’s programs, services and resources with the goals, priorities and aspirations of the community. The dialogue agenda drove toward actionable recommendations that addressed opportunities to leverage new and existing partnerships with the purpose of creating and delivering services and experiences for library users and the community as a whole.


About Winter Park, Florida


Community Type: Suburban Village | Population: 27,852 (2010 US Census) White 86%, Black or African American 8%, Asian 3%, Hispanic or Latino 10%, American Indian or Alaskan Native 1% and Other 3% |  Median Age: 42.7 | Household Income: $59,000 | Poverty: 12.4% of Individuals have incomes below the poverty level | Educational Attainment: 94.8% High School Graduate or Higher | Unemployment:4%


About the Winter Park Public Library

The Winter Park Public Library (WPPL) is a single branch library serving the residents of Winter Park as well as students, workers and others who spend time in the city or travel through on the Florida Sun Rail system. The WPPL is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization led by Executive Director Shawn Shaffer and a 24 member Board of Trustees. WPPL receives approximately one third of its annual funding from a city grant and must raise the rest of its funding from other sources.

While the library offers a robust array of services, the physical space--a three-story brick building constructed in the late 1970s and expanded in the early 1990s--has become overcrowded and outdated. WPPL is currently located within walking distance of city hall and the city’s shopping and restaurant core, but plans are underway to construct a combined library-civic center space inside 23-acre Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, a 3-minute drive from the city core. The decision to build a new library was made following a comprehensive investigation by a city commission appointed task force to explore whether to remodel, rebuild on the existing site or find a new location. More than two years and eight public forums later, the task force’s work culminated in the narrow passage of a March 2016 $30 million bond referendum to build a combined new library, event space and parking garage on the site of the city’s current civic center.


Winter Park Dialogue Format

The Winter Park Library Dialogue included a public program held on a Wednesday evening from 5:30-7:00 pm and a one-day moderated leadership roundtable.

Public Forum: The public forum took place at the local University Club and featured two keynote presentations, a panel discussion and Q&A with the approximately 70 members of the public in attendance. The keynote speakers were Richard Adler, president of People & Technology based in Palo Alto, California, and a distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future, and John Bracken, vice president for media innovation at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation headquartered in Miami. Their complementary presentations placed libraries within the context of a continuously changing environment in which technology is becoming smaller, cheaper, and more mobile and continues to shape the work of libraries. The purpose of the public forum was to provide an opportunity for engaging the broader public in the Dialogue process and to present the ideas of stimulating speakers from outside the area to inform, educate and motivate new thinking about technology, community and the role of the library.

Leadership Roundtable: The following day, 26 participants including civic leaders, city officials, educators, business leaders and library leaders convened at the Rachel D. Murrah Civic Center for a moderated roundtable dialogue. The roundtable discussion addressed four key questions:

1. What kind of community do we want?

2. What changes are necessary to make this vision a reality?

3. How can the Winter Park Public Library help bring about this transition?

4. How can other stakeholders in the community engage and collaborate with the library to transform the library and strengthen the community, now and in the years ahead?

Break-out Sessions: The break-out groups aligned with the three sets of Action Steps in the Rising to the Challenge report – Library Leaders, Policymakers and Community Partners. Using the Action Steps lists in Rising to the Challenge as a guide, each group was asked to identify up to three priority action steps for this particular group (library, policymakers, community partners). Participants were asked to focus on action steps oriented to the development of partnerships and connecting different sectors across the community, and the answer the following questions: What will it take to make these recommendations a reality? Who needs to do what? What additional resources need to be brought in, in order to advance these action steps?


Participants in the Leadership Roundtable

Larry Adams, Principal, ACi Architects

Richard Adler, President, People & Technology and Fellow, Institute for the Future (Palo Alto, CA)

Jeffrey Blydenburgh, President, Jeffrey Blydenburgh Architect and Vice Chairman, Vision Winter Park Steering Committee

Audra Bussey, Educational Consultant, Public Libraries, Cengage Learning

Daniel Butts, Chief Operating Officer, Battaglia Group Management, LLC

Julian Chambliss, Department Chair and Professor of United States History, Rollins College                 

Ali DeMaria, Executive Director, Winter Park Day Nursery             

Michael English, Senior Vice President, Customer Contact Centers & Electronic Distribution, Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Amy Garmer, Director, Dialogue on Public Libraries, The Aspen Institute (Washington, DC)

John Gill, President & CEO, Quest and Chairman,Vision Winter Park Steering Committee

Ken Goldstone, Chief Operating Officer, Full Sail University

Norman Jacknis, President, Metropolitan New York Library Council and Adjunct Professor, Columbia University (New York, New York)

Stacey Johnson, President, East Campus, Valencia College

Randy Knight, City Manager, City of Winter Park

Steve Leary, Mayor, City of Winter Park

Patricia Maddox, President and CEO, Winter Park Health Foundation

Micki Meyer, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, Rollins College

Ronnie Moore, Assistant Director, Parks and Recreation, City of Winter Park

Marina Nice, Client Advisor, SunTrust and Chair of the Board, Winter Park Public Library

David A. Odahowski, President & CEO, Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation

Shawn Shaffer, Executive Director, Winter Park Public Library

Sarah Sprinkel, Elementary Director, Florida Virtual School and Commissioner, City of Winter Park

Maureen Sullivan, Library Consultant and 2013-2014 President, American Library Association 

Maria Vazquez, Area Superintendent Orange County Public Schools

Julie VonWeller, PTO President, All Saints School

Chip Weston, Owner, Chip Weston Studios


Key Issues & Themes

See Winter Park Rising to the Challenge, the Report of the Winter Park Library Dialogue for complete report.

The following were key themes raised and discussed during the Winter Park Library Dialogue: technology and continuous change, stewardship and sustainability, education and learning, and the library as a place for people to connect and discover new ideas and pursuits.

After identifying goals and priorities for the community (questions 1 & 2 noted above), participants identified the following roles, attributes and functions for the WPPL, some of which the library already performs and provides, and others that will require adaptation, transformation and new competencies at the library:

  • A safe, neutral space for active listening and passionate dialogue
  • A center for lifelong learning
  • A maker space and resource for workforce development
  • An asset to help individuals and families in the community “recentralize”
  • Human-centered, accessible and wired
  • Providing connectivity
  • Transcending tomorrow’s digital divide
  • Supporting digital citizenship
  • Offering student maker spaces
  • Acting as the community’s “orchestrator of learning”
  • Consulting with users
  • Adult learning

Key Recommendations

The following are the key recommendations made by the leadership roundtable:

  • Recommendation #1: Create and communicate a new vision for the Winter Park Public Library.
  • Recommendation #2: Define the public library as a community priority and implement activities that demonstrate this priority role.
  • Recommendation #3: Bring diverse expertise and financial and sustainable resources to partner with the library.
  • Recommendation #4: Brand the library as a platform for community learning and development, collaborate with users, and define the scope of library program and strategies.

Ongoing Efforts

The following are some of the ongoing efforts and activities underway in Winter Park following the Winter Park Library Dialogue:

  • Develop and strengthen education partnerships by convening an educators’ roundtable. Initial roundtable of educators from across the city convened at Valencia College on February 1, 2017.
  • Develop and strengthen business and philanthropic partnerships. Library and Chamber of Commerce working to set a date for a roundtable discussion.
  • Develop partnerships with the technology sector.
  • Attention to priority populations in the community.
  • Develop health and wellness partnerships. Working with the Winter Park Health Foundation, city departments, and others.

 Winter Park Library Dialogue Group Photo

wpp_ob_160609_18029_1_.jpg


Materials and Document Database

Winter Park Rising to the Challenge

Richard Adler Presentation

John Bracken Presentation

Winter Park Library Dialogue Photos

*Other materials can be found in the Resources section.

Sutter County Dialogue on Public Libraries
Yuba City, California

Sutter County Dialogue on Public Libraries
Yuba City, California

Introduction

In partnership with the Sutter County Library, the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries convened a countywide, multi-stakeholder forum on public libraries in Yuba City, California, on November 16-17, 2016. The Sutter County Dialogue on Public Libraries was designed to address the strategic opportunities presented by the changing role of public libraries and to showcase models through which civic, government, business, education, and other community leaders working together can leverage libraries as platforms for building more knowledgeable, healthy, and sustainable communities.


About Sutter County, California


Community Type: Rural County | Population: 96,463 (2010 US Census) White 50.4%, Black or African American 2%, Asian 14.4%, Hispanic or Latino 28.8%, American Indian or Alaskan Native 1.4% and Other 5.9% | Median Age: 34 | Household Income: $52,000 | Educational Attainment: 78.5% High School Graduates or Higher | Poverty: 17.5% of individuals have incomes below the poverty level | Unemployment: 8%


About the Sutter County Library

The Sutter County Library is a department of county government. It provides library services to all residents of Yuba City and Sutter County through four branches: a main branch in Yuba City and three branches in the rural communities of Live Oak (Barber Branch), Rio Oso (Browns Branch), and Sutter (Sutter Branch). The library is led by Library Director James Ochsner and a small, dedicated staff with additional volunteers. Ochsner is currently the only staff member with a Master’s of Library Information Science (MLIS) degree. As a department of county government, the library’s funding comes primarily from county general revenues. Currently, the Sutter County Library has a small but active Friends group that supports the library in many ways, including the management of used book sales at the library. In January 2016, the library entered the era of high-speed broadband when it connected to the state’s CENIC (Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California) network. This service has enabled the library to offer a more robust online platform and to think about new opportunities and innovations that can be created for residents now that the library is equipped with a gigabit of bandwidth.


Sutter County Dialogue Format

The Sutter County Dialogue included a series of community engagement workshops, a survey of library use and satisfaction, an evening program featuring a keynote presentation, and a one-day moderated leadership roundtable.

Community Engagement Workshops and Library Survey: The Sutter County Library conducted a series of community planning workshops prior to the November Dialogue event and augmented these workshops with a paper and online-based survey of library users. The goal of both the workshops and the survey was to engage county residents more broadly and hear directly from them about their aspirations, priorities, and goals for the county. The library developed the workshops in consultation with the Aspen Institute and drew from Sacramento Public Library for assistance with skilled facilitation. A total of four workshops were held from late September through early November. Each workshop sought to engage a different segment of the population, including youth, a racially and ethnically diverse group of residents, residents with deep roots in the community and residents highly engaged with Sutter County’s cultural institutions.  

Public Program: The Dialogue began with a public program at Boyd Hall (a public auditorium operated by the Sutter County schools) on a Wednesday evening from 5:30-7:00 pm that was open to the public and featured a keynote speaker and Q&A among participants and the audience. The keynote speaker was Norman Jacknis, PhD, a technologist with deep experience in local government and libraries who currently serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia University in New York, as president of the Metro New York Library Council, and as a senior fellow at the Intelligent Community Forum where he has led the forum’s Rural Imperative, working with communities to develop future-oriented economic growth strategies. In his keynote presentation to the Sutter County Dialogue, Jacknis presented seven trends in technology that are opening up corresponding opportunities for communities and their libraries. He emphasized that libraries do not exist in isolation from the rest of the world and they need to lay the foundation now for where they need to be in the future. The purpose of the public program was to lay a foundation for discussion of opportunities and aspirations at the leadership roundtable the next day by bring in new ideas from an expert on technology and rural communities.

Leadership Roundtable: The following day, 24 leaders from across the county and the state addressed four key questions:

  1. What kind of community do we want?
  2. What changes are necessary to make this vision a reality?
  3. How can the Sutter County Library help to bring about this transition and achieve this vision?
  4. How can other stakeholders in the community engage and collaborate with the library to transform the library and strengthen the community, now and in the years ahead?

Break-out Sessions: The break-out groups focused on three sets of issues that were identified as priorities for the County: Youth and Education, Economic and Workforce Development, Civic and Social Development. Participants were asked to draw from the morning discussion and trends identified in the keynote “to identify 1-2 opportunities (proposals) to strengthen the healthy and vitality of the community in the assigned area.” Each group was to answer the following questions:

  • What trends could work in your favor?
  • What kind of change is needed to make this happen? Consider what assets already exist in the community and how they may be used in new ways?
  • What role could the library play in bringing about the change?
  • Who needs to be involved to make it happen?
  • What key results would be achieved? How would you measure success?

Participants in the Leadership Roundtable

Joaquin Alvarado, Chief Executive Officer, The Center for Investigative Reporting (San Francisco, California)

Rinky Basi, Director, Sutter County One Stop

Michele Blake, Director, Sutter County Children & Families Commission 

Curtis R. Coad, Interim County Administrator, Sutter County Government Office

Tammy Cronin, Project Leader, Valley Vision (Sacramento, California)

Baljinder Dhillon, Superintendent, Sutter County Superintendent of Schools

Dan Flores, Supervisor, Sutter County Board of Supervisors 

Darin Gale, Economic Growth & Public Affairs , City of Yuba City

Ernest Garcia, President, North Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Amy Garmer, Director, Dialogue on Public Libraries, The Aspen Institute

Dominique Harrison, Project Manager, Communications & Society Program, The Aspen Institute

Susan Hildreth, Professor of Practice, University of Washington Information School (Seattle, Washington)

Jessica Hougen, Sutter County Museum Director, Community Memorial Museum of Sutter County

Norman Jacknis, President, Metropolitan New York Library Council and Adjunct Professor, Columbia University (New York, New York)

Miles Johnson, Consultant, Miles and Associates, The Planning Company

Jean Jordan, County Counsel, Sutter County Government Office

Steve Kroeger, City Manager, City of Yuba City

Brett Lear, Library Director, Sonoma County Library (Santa Rosa, California)

Greg Lucas, State Librarian of California, California State Library (Sacramento, California)

Ben Moody, President, Sutter Youth Organization

James Ochsner, Director of Library Services, Sutter County Library

Nancy O'Hara, Director, Health and Human Services for Sutter County

Todd Retzloff, County Assessor, Sutter County Government Office

Rivkah Sass, Executive Director, Sacramento Public Library (Sacramento, California)

Rikki Shaffer, Chief Executive Officer, Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce

Observers:

Linda Baker, Board Member, Friends of Sutter County Library

Kristin Belden, Chief of Staff, The Center for Investigative Reporting

Cole Goins, Senior Manager, Engagement and Community Collaborations, The Center for Investigative Reporting

Shirley Shimizu, Library Supporter

Angie Thoo, Instructional Aide, Andros Karperos School 


 

Overview of Key Issues & Themes

See Sutter County Rising to the Challenge, the Report of the Sutter County Dialogue on Public Libraries for complete report.

The themes of the keynote presentation – new technology, laying the foundation for the future, and placing the library at the table with other community organizations—set the tone for thinking about how these trends and opportunities apply to the issues of concern and priorities of Sutter County residents.

After identifying goals and priorities for the community (questions 1 & 2 noted above), participants identified the following roles, attributes and functions for the Sutter County Library, some of which the library already performs and provides, and others that will require adaptation, transformation and new competencies at the library:

  • A source for information on human capital in the community.
  • A partner with schools and parents in education.
  • A hub for workforce development and college and career readiness.
  • An access point for higher education and center for lifelong learning.
  • A safe and trusted “third place” for youth.
  • Filling technology gaps in the community.
  • Connecting people to resources to live healthier lives. 
  • Ensuring equity in access.
  • An innovation center in the community.

Recommendations

The following are the key recommendations made by the leadership roundtable:

Recommendation #1: Maximize space in the library.

Recommendation #2: Create new library spaces in the community.

Recommendation #3: Use technology to expand the library’s assets and the reach of educational programs on a broad spectrum of topics.

Recommendation #4: Develop partnerships with the workforce development sector.

Recommendation #5: Partner with social service organizations to improve community outreach to target populations and embed service providers in the library.

Recommendation #6: Use the Sutter County Library 100th anniversary year to launch new community engagement initiatives and plan for the future.

Ongoing Efforts

Since the Sutter County Library Dialogue on Public Libraries took place in November 2016, the Sutter County Library has moved forward to advance some of the recommendations in this report. New initiatives with the library and other community partners are in various stages of development.

  • Recommendation #6 in the report was to take advantage of the library’s 100th year anniversary. The Sutter County Library in partnership with the Friends of the Sutter County Library developed a steering committee to plan and execute the events and programs surrounding the anniversary. The celebration took place on May 26, 2017.
  • Leaders at the Sutter County Public Schools and Sutter County Library have met to discuss library support of a grant for which the school system plans to apply.
  • One Stop director has met with library staff several times and the library has hosted a couple of One Stop workshops.
  • A fairly new focus of the library’s Workforce Investment Opportunities Act (WIOA) Title II Adult Literacy Grant is on workforce development. This has opened up opportunities to work with the local superintendent of schools adult education coordinators and the Local Workforce Development Board.
  • A planning committee was formed to move along projects such as the Museum exhibit opening and a 100 year anniversary celebration planned for October 14. This committee was instrumental in developing the new logo.
  • The library’s Live Oak Branch received an exterior face lift, with the interior to be worked on in the coming fiscal year.
  • The Library became an outlet for the sale of Yuba Sutter Transit bus passes.

Sutter County Dialogue Group Photo

 


Materials and Document Database

Sutter County Rising to the Challenge

Norman Jacknis Presentation

Sutter County Dialogue on Public Libraries Photos

*Other materials can be found in the Resources section.

 

 

Colorado Dialogue on Public Libraries
Denver, Colorado

Colorado Dialogue on Public Libraries
Denver, Colorado

Introduction

The Aspen Institute, in partnership with the Colorado State Library (an office of the Colorado Department of Education) convened a statewide, multi-stakeholder forum on May 24-25, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. The Aspen Institute Colorado Dialogue on Public Libraries was designed to identify strategic opportunities presented by the state’s public libraries to create practical solutions for using the infrastructure and expertise of public libraries to build more resilient communities in Colorado.


About Colorado

Community Type: State| Population: 5,540,545 (2016 estimates) White 87.5%, Black or African American 4.5%, Asian 3.3%, Hispanic or Latino 21.3%, American Indian or Alaskan Native 1.6%, and Other 4.2% | Median Age: 36 | Household Income: $62,520 | Educational Attainment: 91.1% High School Graduates or Higher (persons aged 25 years +)| Poverty: 11% of individuals have incomes below the poverty level | Unemployment: 2.9% *

*These statistics are state averages and medians and may vary widely across different parts of the state and in urban vs. rural communities.


About the Colorado State Library

The Colorado State Library (CSL) is a division of the Colorado Department of Education. It provides leadership and expertise in developing library-related policies, activities, and assistance for school, public, academic, and special libraries. The library also administers different grants on a yearly basis to eligible libraries in Colorado. The goal of the CSL is to improve the ability of libraries to provide quality services to all Coloradans. CSL’s key activities are defined in the Library Law section of state statutes and further refined by goals and strategies set forth in the statewide strategic plan for libraries and the five-year Library Services and Technology plan. The Colorado State Library is led by Commissioner Katy Anthes, Ph.D. and Assistant Commissioner Eugene Hainer. As a division of state government the library’s funding comes primarily from state and federal funds.


Aspen Institute Colorado Dialogue Format

The Aspen Institute Colorado Dialogue on Public Libraries included an opening reception and dinner with a panel presentation and a one-day moderated leadership roundtable. The roundtable included a special session in conversation with Governor John Hickenlooper. Colorado Commissioner of Education Katy Anthes provided opening comments at the start of another plenary session.

Panel Presentation: The panel presentation took place on a Wednesday evening at the Wynkoop Brewing Company and featured three highly-regarded library directors from different regions of the state: Claudine Perrault, director of Estes Valley Library; Joseph Sanchez, director of Mesa County Libraries; and Pam Sandlian-Smith, director of Anythink Libraries (Front Range/Adams County). Each shared powerful stories about how they and their public libraries are responding to the physical, economic, and civic needs of their communities, and engaged the non-library participants with visions of how local libraries can build community and strengthen community resiliency. The purpose of the panel presentation was to showcase the leadership of and innovative work being done by public libraries across the state. The specific narratives focused on the leadership role of public libraries and librarians in response to natural disasters and the recovery process, rapid economic and demographic change, and the need to address the civic health of communities at a time of increasing political polarization.

Leadership Roundtable: The following day, 24 library leaders, state and local policymakers, business and civic partners met for the day-long discussion at the History Colorado Center. The agenda was structured around a 2016 study conducted by the office of Governor John Hickenlooper that examines what it takes to create more resilient communities.

The roundtable discussion addressed three key questions:

  • How do libraries help build resilient communities?
  • What changes are needed to strengthen the role of libraries in building resilient communities?
  • What can my networks and I do to help define and implement pathways for action?

The first session explored the drivers of and challenges to resiliency. In his opening remarks, Governor John Hickenlooper described the importance of public libraries by sharing his personal story of benefiting from public libraries at critical times in his life. Conversation with the Governor began to explore changes to strengthen role of libraries and how libraries can become more engaged in statewide initiatives. Session two looked more specifically at statewide priorities in education/learning and community development. In her remarks on education goals in Colorado, Katy Anthes reflected on the need to identify where in the ecosystem to strengthen existing bridges and where to build new bridges.

 The conversation that followed explored the building blocks of community resilience and an examination of the priorities and goals of Colorado communities in developing human, economic and social capital.

Break-out Sessions: The break-out groups focused on three sets of issues that were identified as priorities for Colorado: Youth & Education, Economic and Workforce Development, and Civic and Social Development. Participants were asked to draw from the morning discussions, trends identified in the readings, and to “identify 1-2 opportunities to strengthen the health and vitality of Colorado communities in the assigned area.” Each group was to answer the following questions:

  • What trends could work in your favor?
  • What kind of change is needed to make this happen? Consider what assets may already exist in communities and how they may be used in new ways.
  • What role could public libraries play in bringing about the change?
  • Who needs to be involved to make it happen?
  • What key results would be achieved? How would you measure success?

Participants in the Leadership Roundtable

Katy Anthes, Colorado Commissioner of Education, Colorado Department of Education

Clarke Becker, Director, Colorado Rural Workforce Consortium, Colorado Department of Labor & Employment

Dan Cordova, Librarian, Colorado Supreme Court

Katherine Correll, Executive Director, Downtown Colorado, Inc.

Charlie Firestone, Executive Director, Communications and Society Program, The Aspen Institute

Laura Frank, President and General Manager, News, Rocky Mountain PBS

Joe Garcia, President, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education

Amy Garmer, Director of the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries, The Aspen Institute

Dan Gibbs, Commissioner, Summit Board of County Commissioners

Anthony E. Graves, Director of Regional Affairs, Office of Mayor Michael B. Hancock, City and County of Denver

David Greenberg, Vice Chancellor, Institutional Partnerships, University of Denver

Eugene Hainer, Assistant Commissioner, Colorado State Library

Irv Halter, Executive Director, State of Colorado, Department of Local Affairs

Jesse Henning, Executive Director, Garfield County Libraries

John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado, State of Colorado  

Dustin Hodge, Principal, Hodge Media Group

Margaret Hunt, Director, Colorado Creative Industries

Michelle Jeske, City Librarian, Denver Public Library

Claudine Perrault, Director, Estes Valley Library

Randy Pye, Managing Principal, FulcrumOne

Connie Rule, Executive Director, Boys & Girls Club of Colorado

Joseph Sanchez, Library Director, Mesa County Libraries

Pam Sandlian-Smith, Director, Anythink Libraries

Chip Taylor, Executive Director, Colorado Counties, Inc.

Ann Terry, Executive Director, Special District Association


Key Recommendations

There was general agreement that the State Library would be instrumental in leading or advancing the recommendations. Dialogue participants identified four projects from their break-out session work that they could undertake, in collaboration with the State Library, as a means to address critical issues and opportunities identified during the dialogue. These include:

  • Project 1: Library in a Box responds to the need for modeling innovative and effective library services and communicating these successes to other libraries, the community and the media.
  • Project 2: Youth Voices addresses the challenges of getting youth into libraries to access the services available to them, giving youth a strong voice in the community and showing the impact of the library’s work to the community.
  • Project 3: Workforce Training Modules Pilot uses the inherent connectivity of libraries to create a living database of professional training modules that would be accessible to all Colorado libraries.
  • Project 4: Civic Umbrella uses the library’s reputation for being neutral and its capability as a convener and facilitator to foster the exchange of ideas, relationship building and civic literacy in ways that develop trust among community members. Such trust is needed for resiliency in times of crisis.

Ongoing Efforts

Since the adjournment of the Aspen Institute Colorado Dialogue on Public Libraries, the Colorado State Library has begun to advance these four projects. More information can be found in the report and by contacting the Colorado State Library.


Aspen Institute Colorado Dialogue on Public Libraries Group Photo


Materials and Document Database

 

Libraries: Building Community Resilience In Colorado

Panel Presentation

Key Remarks by Governor John Hickenlooper

Colorado Dialogue on Public Libraries Photos

*Other materials can be found in the Resources section.

Houston Dialogue on Public Libraries
Houston, Texas

Houston Dialogue on Public Libraries
Houston, Texas

Introduction

The Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries convened the Houston Dialogue on Public Libraries in partnership with the Houston Public Library on November 15-16, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Houston Dialogue on Public Libraries was developed to identify strategic opportunities presented by the city’s public libraries to build greater organizational and community capacity and to strengthen initiatives focused on recovery, opportunity and sustainability in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

About Houston

Community Type: City | Population: 2,099,451 (2010 US Census) White 58.3%, Black or African American 22.8%, Asian 6.7%, Hispanic or Latino 44.3% (of any race), American Indian or Alaskan Native 0.8%, and Other 9.8% | Median Age: 33 | Household Income: $47,010 | Educational Attainment: 77.4% High School Graduates or Higher (persons aged 25 years +) | Poverty: 21.9% of individuals have incomes below the poverty level| Unemployment: 4.3%

Sources: 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About the Houston Public Library

Houston Public Library (HPL) is the 7th largest public library system in the United States and it is the central library system located in the city of Houston, serving the city’s more than 2 million residents. It comprises 44 public service units, including 31 Neighborhood Libraries, four Regional Libraries, three Special Collection Libraries and four Express Libraries, the HPL Mobile Express and a satellite library located at the Children’s Museum of Houston. HPL’s mission is linking people to the world. The library administers educational, recreational and cultural programs and services for community members. The Houston Public Library is led by Executive Director Rhea Lawson, Ph.D.  The library’s operating budget is provided by the City of Houston’s general fund with philanthropic donations and grants helping to support the programs, resources and services.

Houston Dialogue on Public Libraries Format

The Houston Dialogue on Public Libraries was originally planned in mid-September in Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey hit the week prior to the dialogue and the event had to be postponed. The Aspen Institute and HPL still decided to invite dialogue participants to meet for a two-hour “recovery session” on September 14, 2017. Over 20 high-level civic and business leaders gathered to discuss how their institutions were leveraging their own and other community resources to respond to the complex needs of the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Using the priorities and insights identified in September, the Houston Dialogue on Public Libraries built upon this work in the November meeting.

The November dialogue included an opening reception with remarks by Houston City Council Member Amanda Edwards, a panel presentation and a one-day moderated leadership roundtable.

Panel Presentation: The panel presentation took place on a Wednesday evening at the Houston Public Library and featured HPL staff and two dynamic library leaders: Nicole Robinson, assistant director Community Education, Outreach, & Cultural Initiatives Division, Houston Public Library; John Middleton, assistant director of Spaces & Communications Divisions, Houston Public Library; Tim Siegel, assistant manager, McGovern- Stella Link Neighborhood Library; and Helen Chou, administration manager, senior manager of International Services. Each shared information about specific programs and activities that HPL leads and how they are responding to the physical, economic and civic needs of the city of Houston. The purpose of the panel presentation was to showcase HPL’s work and impact and the innovative work being done by public libraries in Houston.

Leadership Roundtable: The following day, 30 library leaders, policymakers, business and civic partners met for the day-long leadership roundtable at the Houston Public Library. The agenda was structured around priorities and insights identified in the September meeting to explore in greater depth how to leverage the assets of the city’s libraries as the city, its public and private sector institutions, and its residents move forward after Hurricane Harvey.

The roundtable discussion addressed three key questions:

  • How do libraries help to foster equity and opportunity in the community?
  • What changes are needed to strengthen the role of libraries in building a more equitable and resilient Houston?
  • What can my networks and I do to help define and implement pathways for action and sustainable outcomes?

The first session explored building blocks of a healthy recovery and a more resilient community, and the role of the public library in fostering and ensuring access to these building blocks. Session two included smaller working groups where participants identified models that are working well, where the opportunities are for additional partnerships and collaborations to strengthen the building blocks of a healthy, resilient community in Houston, and what barriers may impede action and progress moving forward.  The conversation that followed explored these opportunities in connection to HPL’s priority service areas – Access, Connectivity and Education (ACE).

Break-out Sessions: The break-out groups focused on three sets of issues that were identified as priorities for Houston: Youth & Families, Economic & Workforce Development, and Civic Engagement & Design. Participants were asked to draw from the morning discussions and “to identify one or two opportunities to leverage the partnership potential of Houston libraries that aligns with one or more of the three priority service areas of HPL.” Each group was encouraged to develop proposals that would support the recovery and resilience of the city in the next 6-12 months with an eye toward sustaining success as part of the long-term recovery and resurgence. Participants were told to think about how these proposals could address the needs of vulnerable populations and reflect the principles of equity and complete communities. Each group was to answer the following questions:

  • What change is needed to make this happen in the short-term (0-6 months)? Consider what partnerships, relationships and assets already exist and how they may be strengthened or used in new ways.
  • Who needs to be involved to make it happen?
  • What key results would be achieved? How would you measure success?
  • What policies or practices need to be in place to ensure long-term success in sustaining successful results?

Participants in the Leadership Roundtable

Claudia Aguirre-Vasquez, Senior Vice President and Chief Program Officer, BakerRipley

Phyllis Bailey, Owner, 3B Resources Group Public Relations

Julie Baker Finck, President, Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation

Peter Beard, Senior Vice President, Regional Workforce Development, Greater Houston Partnership

Veronica Chapa Gorczynski, President, Greater East End Management District

Evelyn Dravis, Library Manager and FLIP Director, Children's Museum of Houston

Amanda Edwards, City Council Member at Large, Houston City Council

Melanie Fisk, Chief Executive Officer, Literacy Advance

Bill Fulton, Director, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University

Amy Garmer, Director of the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries, The Aspen Institute

Licia Green Ellis, Chair, Houston Public Library Foundation

Lynn Henson, Administration Manager, Planning & Development Department, City of Houston

Winell Herron, Vice President, H E B

Zachary Hodges, President, Houston Community College Northwest

Risha Jones, Deputy Director, Department of Health and Human Services, City of Houston

Sara Kellner, Director, Civic Art + Design, Houston Arts Alliance

Lester King, Research Scientist, School of Natural Sciences, Rice University, Shell Center for Sustainability

Mary Lawler, Executive Director, Avenue CDC

Rhea Lawson, Director, Houston Public Library

Elwyn C. Lee, Vice President for Neighborhood & Strategic Initiatives, University of Houston

Decrecia Limbrick, Assistant Director, Children and Family Services Division, City of Houston

Edward Melton, Director, Harris County Public Library

Laura Murillo, President & Chief Executive Officer, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Jim Nicholas, Market President, Commercial Banking, Capital One Bank

Tonyel Simon, Program Officer, Houston Endowment

Rhonda Skillern – Jones, Member, Houston Independent School District Board

Mark Smith, Director and Librarian, Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Mike Temple, Executive Director, Workforce Solutions-Gulf Coast Workforce Board

Amanda Timm, Executive Director, Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Patrick Walsh, Director, Planning & Development Department, City of Houston


Houston Dialogue on Public Libraries Group Photo