Healthy communities have engaged citizens.  Our communities need safe, neutral, and “no agenda” spaces to facilitate community engagement, bring people together for shared learning, and achieve common understanding and goals.  We believe public libraries are these safe, neutral, and “no agenda” spaces.

This project, funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Omaha Public Library (OPL), is designed to help public libraries clearly define and expand their community role by demonstrating new values tangibly and transparently.  We intend to discover and codify the best practices of public and private sector community engagement efforts.  During this process, we hope to create a specific community engagement foundation for libraries.

Our community engagement foundation will include principles, practices, and tools.  Our goals are to share –

  • A scalable model that includes ideas, opinions, and feedback from community individuals, leaders, organizations, and library patrons.
  • Knowledge, practices, tools, guidelines, and capacity building resources that position the public library as a community anchor organization.
  • Pathways for people to connect with others, find networks, solve problems, and innovate.
  • Methods and metrics for designing and measuring effective community engagement programs, services, and outcomes.

Our project activities include –

  • Developing a community asset map
  • A “connecting people” pilot project
  • A collaboration/problem solving pilot project
  • A creativity/innovation pilot project
  • Facilitator training with guided practice for selected library staff members

Our core project staff includes –

Omaha Public Library

  • Linda Trout, Project Director
  • Theresa Jehlik, Project Manager

Consultant Partners

  • Sam McBane Mulford, strategist, ideation collaborative
  • Cheryl Gould, learning facilitator, Fully Engaged Libraries

Community Partner

  • University of Nebraska at Omaha, College of Public Affairs and Community Services, Center for Public Affairs Research

Service Providers

  • CIVICTechnologies
  • CollectionHQ
  • Counting Opinions

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