Turning Outward

Our library embraces a turning outward approach. This is an intentional process, a stance, for listening to and learning from our community. It also means we choose to ground library work in the community’s shared aspirations.

We have turned outward—listening, learning, and acting on feedback from library patrons, governmental peers, community members, and community partners—since 2014. People have shared their hopes, dreams, and emerging concerns. To date, shared aspirations include literacy, education, diversity, inclusion, equity, empathy, health, safety, and affordability.

There are many examples of how turning outward—and acting on answers to the question “what kind of community do you want to live in”—has impacted library work. Creating a new mission and vision, hiring a social worker to replace contracted security with a community engagement model, and eliminating fines for late materials are a few. One of the biggest is the library’s anti-racism journey »

Above: On Thursday, April 4, and Friday, April 5, 2019, more than 100 community members, stakeholders, and library staff attended sessions with Rich Harwood, president and founder of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and creator of the turning outward practice. Stories related to that visit include “Community as as Common Enterprise” and “Why I wear a flag pin.”

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