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

Facilitation and Story Time

Story TimeI confess. I’m a children’s librarian. I love kids. I love how I get to be a kid around them. Although we played a lot of games, our trainings were all about adults! So I wasn’t sure how learning about facilitation would help me do my current job. More

I’m Here

I'm HereI’m here.

I can still hear Linda Trout’s voice saying “I’m here”.  This was the first facilitation training activity at the beginning of the grant project’s FIT Team.  Before I say anything else, I need to say there is no wrong way to say “I’m here”.  Some people asked it like a question: “I’m here?”  Others said it meekly: “I’m here.”  Participants were asked to stand in a circle, and when ready, step one-by-one into the circle’s center, make eye contact with everyone else, and say those two words.  Some people said “I’m here” as fast as possible and bee lined it back to their spot.  Linda actually turned around and looked at everyone in the circle.  The “I’m here” she said that morning had deep, invisible roots that held firmly to the building’s foundation.  I had no idea what was going through Linda’s mind but it felt like Linda was truly here.  Not pretending to be here.  Not wishing she was here.  Present. More

How the FIT Team Affected My Life

Being PresentWhen I first heard about the FIT Team at Staff Day 2013, I was immediately interested.  It was a chance to be part of a really exciting, unique opportunity and to push myself out of my comfort zone.  Other big selling points were the ideas that the library would facilitate discussions in the community and create a model for other libraries. More

Full Circle

Full CircleMy FIT Team colleagues and I recently facilitated a quarterly meeting of the Community Services Section for Lutheran Family Services.  I remember looking around the room and observing the participants’ reactions as we ran the icebreaker and other group activities.  There was rolling of the eyes, confusion, disinterest, etc.  I was worried.  Would they get anything out of this process?  As I let go of this worry, I reflected back on my first meeting to learn about facilitation.  I too rolled my eyes, was somewhat disinterested, AND inserted my opinion often!  I changed. More

I Carry Blue Painter’s Tape in My Bag

Blue Painter's TapeHow has the FIT Team experience helped you in your personal and professional life?

Ah, let me count the ways.

Personally

First, the ground rules had great influence in my life.  Second, I made some incredible personal connections through this experience.  Third, I learned things that have been useful in all aspects of my life.  Fourth, I connected with my kids through the games and activities we have done.

I previously wrote a few posts about how the ground rules became part of my personal life.  The one that has had, and continues to have, the most impact, is Everything is an Offer.  That attitude of gratitude and acceptance is very powerful.  I need to keep it in mind more often – especially as my kids become teenagers. More

Becoming an Omaha Citizen via the FIT Team

Self ConfidenceMy invitation to be part of the FIT Team came as I was transitioning into a brand new job at the library.  As I was learning the ins and outs of a new branch and a new role that was further outside my comfort zone than any previous job, I was asked to train in something called facilitation.  If I were better at saying no, I might have at that point.  I would have really missed out on being part of something that was so terrifying and so special. More

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