Meservey, Iowa, is a tiny, rural town of just 240 people. We have a church, a bar, a post office … and my little library. There isn’t much to do in town as far as entertainment goes, so the library tends to serve as a community hub — we are one of the only local sources of free events and programming.
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The Skills for Community-Centered Libraries initiative — a series of trainings meant to build community engagement capacities among staff — launched on Oct. 2, so it’s a good time for the Free Library of Philadelphia’s community organizing team to share what exactly we mean by community engagement. A common definition is a baseline for discussion at workshops and a way to push people’s thinking.
The Aspen Institute’s influential report “Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries” predicts that in the coming years, the most successful public libraries will be the ones with services that prioritize and support local community goals.
Makerspaces foster creativity and encourage out-of-the-box thinking, but they often require physical space that a library doesn't have. But even if your library doesn't have a dedicated makerspace, you can still incorporate maker elements into your day. Our school library transforms our lunch period into maker time with STEAM activities such as our Mystery Maker Challenge.
If you spend any time on social media, especially if you follow other libraries, librarians or community groups, you’ve probably heard a lot of talk about intergenerational programming. I have read news stories about daycare groups being integrated with seniors’ homes, or 20-somethings finding mentors (and roommates!) in older adults.