Pages tagged "Leadership"


Our New Library: How the Aspen Report Paved the Way

The new central Wichita Public Library is scheduled to open at the beginning of summer 2018, and it’s been 17 years in the making. Life’s events resulted in a variety of stops and starts but the outcome is well worth the wait.


A Board’s Approach to Re-Envisioning Their Public Library

East Hampton Library (EHL) is in the Town of East Hampton which is located in southeastern Suffolk County, New York. The population is about 21,000 and is largely comprised of a growing Hispanic community. It became clear that additional and more robust programs were needed to address the increasing minority population of the township served by EHL. For instance, we needed to keep in mind two important realities: first, that 80% of the 500 average daily EHL visitors came into the EHL to engage in an activity and not to source an item to take with them, and second, that the Latino population of the township now comprised over 50 % of its elementary, middle school, and high school student populations.


Out of the Box and into the Community

Transylvania County is a southern Appalachia community of a little over 30,000 people. We pride ourselves on having a rural mountain town feel while also having a diverse selection of education, arts and cultural opportunities. All of this is set against the backdrop of rich, natural resources that provide opportunities for recreation.

 


Looking Forward: From Intake to Planning

In 2025, Lewisville, Texas will celebrate a major milestone – the 100th anniversary of its founding. City officials saw this as the perfect opportunity to ask the community to do some forward thinking. “We heard from the community about what they wanted their city to look like by the year of their centennial, and we developed our Lewisville 2025 Vision Plan from that,” says Donna Barron, city manager. “The library was included as part of the inquiry, and what we heard was the desire for it to be the gathering spot for ALL members of the community. A focus on multiculturalism was discussed extensively.”


Space Matters

Whether witnessing the Northern Lights, reading an inspiring article, attending a world premier opera, dining at a pioneering new restaurant or swimming with sharks; these moments are etched in my mind and filed away as memories to be cherished again and again. Why? Because they made every cell vibrate with life. Often the best moments in life are those we experience on multiple levels --- mind, body and senses powerfully engaged.

How is it that moments that engage on both the cerebral and corporeal level are the foundation of learning? How do we create the opportunities that keep us coming back for more? How do we consistently offer this opportunity and the discovery inherent in education? How do we continually provide the same stimulation that lives permanently in our memory and informs future endeavors? The path lies in the way we create learning spaces - vibrant learning spaces, to be specific. Spaces pulsating with energy and excitement. If we carefully curate the space, providing the proper mix of tools, resources and inspiration, the full experience of learning will occur more rapidly and more frequently. 

At Heart of America (HOA) we know that learning can happen at any moment but the right space is an imperative. For the past 20 years, we have explored and tackled this issue, learning throughout our journey. Our work has transformed small and large learning spaces in schools, community centers and public libraries – sometimes through complete overhauls and sometimes through thoughtful adjustments to elements already there, always with the goal of vibrancy in mind as that is what stimulates and captivates. That is the engine.

Today’s libraries should reflect how we ideate, ruminate and ultimately discover in our constantly evolving environment. Libraries must embrace more active and diverse ways of encouraging and allowing education to happen. Libraries were created as learning environments, but as time went on, all too often their lack of funding or lack of understanding of how to keep step with the world outside their doors, ultimately created a situation in which they remained still while the world rushed by at a dizzying pace.

The amazing and not unexpected reality is libraries continue in many ways to own the potential to be best-in-class learning environments. How? By embracing their ability to be a strategic inventory of digital and print information, creation spaces, art museums, learning labs, open collaboration areas, technology hubs and makerspaces. These vital municipal spaces should be a beacon of light for our neighborhoods, our schools, and all types of community groups by creating spaces that beckon, entice and cajole entry. 

Years of experience and experimentation has taught our HOA team how to design vibrant learning spaces and libraries. The secret sauce? Orchestrate a true community effort incorporating the following six steps:

  1. LISTEN: Listen to the stakeholders who use, work in and manage the library to understand how and why they use it; ask what would elevate their learning, what would make their job easier?
  2. INVENTORY: Catalogue current inventory of books, technology, art, materials; who are the users (demographics, languages, occupations, etc.).
  3. OBSERVE: Watch traffic flow; note the types of activities that take place in the library; where are the active spaces and where are the quiet?  Is the space conducive for multiple types of learning styles – solo and group?
  4. DREAM: Think and design BIG with library stakeholders and community members; reimagine new learning environments; create an equipment and resource wish-list; brainstorm and sketch out an ideal library. 
  5. BUILD: Engage local funders, donors, sponsors, partners who live, work and grow in the community; utilize local trades, artists, designers to build the dream.
  6. NOURISH: Continue to update resources and assess Library progress with community stakeholders and engage Library partners.

In celebration of HOA’s 20th anniversary, we want to share, excite and engage communities across the nation. To do this, we are hosting an interactive and stimulating discussion series focused on the evolution of learning spaces, including libraries. Join us. Contribute to our communities with us. Whether in person or via podcast, please be an active part of the conversation to help advance our collective work on creating vibrant learning environments throughout our country.  

Twitter: @heartofamericaf
Facebook: @heartofamerica

Jill Hardy Heath
President & CEO
The Heart of America Foundation
jheath@heartofamerica.org


Striving to Support our Mission

The Cherry Hill Public Library (CHPL) is a municipal library in southern New Jersey, across the river from Philadelphia that is efficient and relevant to our patrons and one of New Jersey’s busiest libraries.  Our beautiful 72,000 square foot facility is just over ten years old and is one of the state’s largest municipal libraries.  There were 590,000 library visits in 2016, with circulation of 394,936 items. CHPL embodies the shift in libraries as a community anchor, a center for research, information and entertainment.  We invest in programming, nontraditional circulation items, and downloadable eBooks, audiobooks and video. 


A Better Understanding of Our Role in the 21st Century

The Middlebury Public Library is located in a small to medium size suburban town in Middlebury, CT.  Our population is 7,575 and our budget consists of 1.4% of tax allocation and is shrinking. The Middlebury Public Library is staffed by four full-time and four part-time employees and volunteers. We are a stand-alone library that relies on our State Library for additional support.


Improving and Expanding Conversations in the Community for Youth

Pine River Public Library, Pine River, CO

The Pine River Public Library is located in rural, Southwest Colorado, 20 miles east of Durango. The library district serves over 1,800 people in the small town of Bayfield plus an additional 6,500 in the surrounding areas.


Informed and Engaged Communities: The Critical Impact of Libraries on Civic Life

At the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, we work to promote informed and engaged communities in a variety of sectors, including journalism, technology, and the arts. I work directly in 18 of the 26 Knight communities, places where I see the critical impact libraries can have on civic life. This means I get to work with libraries of all shapes and sizes across the country. I learned a lot this past year, and here are some of the trends I am seeing:

 


Your Local Library: The Ultimate Community Engagement Center

*Editor’s note: This blog is written in response to the recent Aspen Institute, International City/County Management Association (ICMA), and the Public Library Association (PLA) survey analysis, “Role of Libraries in Advancing Community Goals.”  The analysis is based on data from the “Local Libraries Advancing Community Goals, 2016”, a report detailing results of a nationwide survey of nearly 2,000 chief administrative offices of local governments focused on the evolving role of public libraries in advancing community goals.


 


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