Like many libraries across the nation, the Free Library of Philadelphia is undergoing a paradigm shift. Increasingly, our focus is not only on extensive collections but on how we are engaging with our communities. To address this shift, the Free Library created the Skills for Community-Centered Libraries curriculum.
The Skills for Community-Centered Libraries Curriculum
The Skills for Community-Centered Libraries curriculum is available for free so that all libraries can access and implement it with their own staff. The curriculum is designed to provide participants the opportunity to reflect on the work they do and create small shifts in their professional practices and mindset toward a common goal of engagement with the community as defined by the community. Staff will develop skills in identifying neighborhood assets, facilitating community meetings, understanding emerging neighborhood trends, and enhancing the library's community engagement initiatives.
The curriculum is made up of four, 4-hour workshops that cover the major components of community engagement in a library setting. The materials for each workshop include a lesson plan, a scripted Facilitator Guide, a Participant Guide, and a set of PowerPoint slides.
- Workshop 1: Building Connections explores strategies for connecting with community assets in-person and online in an effort to become a more community-centered library.
Lesson Plan - PDF, 1.35 MB
Participant Guide - PDF, 1.19 MB
Facilitator Guide - PDF, 2.01 MB
Presentation - PDF, 3.98 MB ; PPTX, 57.8 MB
- Workshop 2: Effective Communication reflects on how life experiences, traditions, and beliefs impact communication and explores strategies for facilitating deeper discussions and stronger connections as steps toward a more community-centered library.
Lesson Plan - PDF, 1.27 MB
Participant Guide - PDF, 1.53 MB
Facilitator Guide - PDF, 1.27 MB
Presentation - PDF, 0.97 MB ; PPTX, 33.1 MB
- Workshop 3: Program Development examines the benefits of involving community assets when creating community programs and examines how those approaches impact engagement outcomes.
Lesson Plan - PDF, 1.19 MB
Participant Guide - PDF, 1.36 MB
Facilitator Guide - PDF, 1.19 MB
Presentation - PDF, 1.08 MB ; PPTX, 21.5 MB
- Workshop 4: Community Engagement looks at the model as a strategy for developing asset-oriented initiatives to strengthen the community-centered library.
Lesson Plan - PDF, 1.70 MB
Participant Guide - PDF, 1.40 MB
Facilitator Guide - PDF, 1.25 MB
Presentation - PDF, 467 KB ; PPTX, 23.3 MB
Examples of Community-Centered Libraries in Action
As a part of this training initiative, participants developed a project that utilized the knowledge gained during trainings. Projects include a gardening for kids program, an unforgettable gathering with members of the Muslim community focused on our Rare Book Department’s collection of Islamic manuscripts, and a neighborhood photography workshop and art exhibit highlighting positive images of a neighborhood often associated with the opioid crisis.
Additional Resources for Facilitators
Below are additional resources for facilitators looking to expand their understanding of the Skills for Community-Centered Libraries curriculum and best practices for workshop delivery.
How We Developed the Curriculum
This curriculum was developed through both in-person and online workshops and was tested by seven other library networks in rural and urban communities. The staff and trainers at these libraries provided important contributions in evaluating and improving the Skills for Community-Centered Libraries curriculum: Coy Public Library (PA), Columbus Public Library (WI), Cleveland Public Library (OH), Hartford Public Libraries (CT), Multnomah County Library (OR), San Francisco Public Library (CA), and Halifax Public Libraries (NS). David Lankes, Virginia and Charles Bowden Professor of Librarianship at UT Austin, also provided advisory support.
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [Grant #RE-95-17-0089-17]