Getting People in the Room

People in the Room

The most difficult part of each pilot project was getting people in the room for a conversation.


Survey Methods Matter

PopulationA Community Engagement Survey was designed with our partner, University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO), College of Public Affairs and Community Services, Center for Public Affairs Research, to provide outcomes development and evaluation components.  After running a baseline survey in October 2013, we used the same instrument for all three pilot projects (2013-2014) and a concluding survey in October 2014.  More

Three Pilot Projects

Collaboration 1Three pilot projects were created so our FIT Team could practice newly learned skills with groups focused on making connections, solving problems, or seeking creative solutions.  While trying to explain the “Big Picture” or “Why” behind the pilot project design, our consultants prepared a “cheat sheet” that described why the attendees were there; who needs to work on this problem; and how to think creatively about solutions.  I’ve added the projects that were used by the OPL facilitators in each area. More

What Counts Gets Measured: 2015 Results

Measure 2The Omaha Public Library had 7,966 program, outreach, and community engagement events with a total attendance of 274,070 in 2015.  The total average attendance for all events was 34.  If you break down total average attendance by audience, the results are 26 for adults, 11 for young adults and 65 for children.  If you further break down the total average attendance by event type and audience, the numbers are smaller for adult programs and children’s programs and outreach.  However, the numbers are larger for adult outreach and community engagement, all teen events, and children’s community engagement. More

Low-Tech Solutions Work Best

Low Tech Tools 1Low-tech solutions (i.e. great portable facilitator kits with good quality supplies) proved to be the best for community conversations.  Our initial assumption that most meetings would take place in the library was wrong.  Although some meetings took place in the library, many were at non-library locations.  We expect this trend to increase as we work with more community groups.

Since our initial assumption was discovered to be wrong early, we re-thought the technology budgeted for the grant.  Money originally earmarked for smart boards and projectors to be installed in library meeting rooms was instead used to buy portable facilitator kits and good quality supplies for our 12 branches.  These kits proved so invaluable that the library now budgets annually for facilitation supplies in our Community Services Budget.      More

A Community Conversation Model

Community Engagement 2016When OPL began this project, our grant consultants modeled a facilitated community conversation with staff members.  The group consisted of one or two staff members from each of our 12 locations.  The community was defined as the Omaha Public Library system.  After the conversation, the participants were asked to replicate the model at their own locations.  Those that repeated the structured conversation reported a positive experience with their co-workers.  Common agreement points were that “staff needs to be engaged first before the community can be [engaged]” and “work to make sure staff is in place that cares about OPL and furthering its goals”.

The detailed agenda with facilitation tips follows.  Feel free to use this model for your own community conversations.  All you have to do is substitute the community’s name for the words library, OPL, branch, and Omaha.      More

What Counts Gets Measured: Part 4

Measure 2Programs, Outreach, and Community Engagement


 Why We Do It

The working definitions are why we do these activities.  What is the intent of the activity?  Why is the activity important to the library and Omaha? More

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