Inside the Harwood Institute’s Innovators Lab for Libraries
By Michael Casey
January 9, 2015
Since the American Library Association (ALA) announced its collaboration with the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation’s The Promise of Libraries Transforming Communities, in 2012, the organizations have provided a variety of venues for libraries to engage deeply with the question of how they can and should enable change in their communities. At the upcoming ALA Midwinter Meeting, the Institute will lead a series of four hands-on workshops on Turning Outward To Lead Change in Your Community. However, Harwood is also leading this change beyond the conference circuit, holding longer, more intensive Innovators Labs for libraries. The first took place Oct. 8–10, 2014, at the Loudermilk Convention Center in Atlanta. Michael Casey, Division Director, Information Technology at Gwinnett County Public Library, GA, and an LJ Mover & Shaker, attended the lab and reports below, giving Midwinter attendees a hint of what they might find in the sessions.
To a world driven by big data, where online surveys and demographic data dives result in pages of analytics, comes a strategy that involves stories, conversations, and actual face-to-face discussions. It all starts with one simple question, “What kind of community do you want to live in?”
This was the first question presented to participants at the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation’s three-day Public Innovators Lab for Libraries held in downtown Atlanta. It saw more than 60 librarians and library administrators convened to learn from Harwood coaches Cheryl Gorman, Bill Booth, and David Moore about how libraries can engage their communities in conversations that can position the library to be at the front of local issue discussions.