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Statewide Community Engagement Training


Wisconsin Libraries Transforming Communities

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's Division for Libraries and Technology is proud to partner with the American Library Association for a this impactful state-level community engagement training, Wisconsin Libraries Transforming Communities (WLTC).


A stated goal of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Five-year Plan for Wisconsin 2018-2022 is: Stronger engagement of public libraries with their communities and utilization of data to actively adapt to community needs. The objective of this goal is to increase awareness of community engagement as critical to public library sustainability and to provide training and resources to facilitate effective community engagement practices of libraries with their local communities.

The project stems from a multi-year initiative by DPI’s Division for Libraries and Technology. Per A Report on Findings from the Public Library Community Engagement Needs Assessment, the state will provide training for library directors/staff and municipal/community partners to enable success in these critical aspects of the library’s community engagement initiative. The learning cohort will participate in:

  1. Preparing library staff, library trustees, municipal leaders and community partners for community engagement efforts;
  2. Collecting community needs, wants and aspirations;
  3. Creating and building sustainable community partnerships;
  4. Hiring staff and nurturing a staff culture conducive to engagement;
  5. Planning and carrying out programs and/or services in response to community engagement initiatives;
  6. Measuring the success of community engagement activities; and
  7. Locating and leveraging demographic information about communities served.

Thriving Libraries, a team of consultants trained in community engagement and leadership development techniques, provide the expertise for this 18-month hands on, cohort-based training, resulting in:

  • Public libraries inspired to participate in communities in order to meet community needs on a local level.
  • Thorough understanding of community needs and future aspirations from diverse stakeholders.
  • Strong understanding of current community-based planning strategies in the library field and related fields.
  • Development and evolution of program and service offerings that serve community aspirations and needs.
  • Deeper relationships with communities that are typically underserved, underrepresented and underrecognized.

The Wisconsin Libraries Transforming Communities training relies on raising up library leaders in coaching positions, as well. Coaches are trained as part of this state-wide effort. Envisioned as an 18-month masterclass in authentic leadership, resilience, and self-care, Coaches are assigned one or two participant Teams to cheerlead and shepherd through their library community engagement projects.

The WLTC Cohort: Class of 2020-2021

There is a bevy of talent among these 37 participants. For more details, check out the Team Spotlights and the Final Report and Evaluation of the project.

WLTC Coaches

  • Kristen Anderson, Winding Rivers Library System
  • Ryan Claringbole, Monona Public Library
  • Jennifer Fait, Milwaukee Public Library
  • Bruce Gay, Waukesha Public Library
  • Leah Langby, IFLS Library System
  • Adriana McCleer, Appleton Public Library
  • Holly Selwitschka, Winneconne Public Library

WLTC Teams

  • Brodhead
    • Angela Noel, Brodhead Memorial Public Library
    • Erin Menzel, Better Brodhead
    • Sabrina Meichtry, Community member
  • Eau Claire
    • Isa Small, L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library
    • Trish Cummins, Community member
  • Franklin
    • Laura Gravander, Franklin Public Library
    • Lauren Gottlieb, City of Franklin Health Department
    • Ellen Henry, City of Franklin Health Department
  • Kenosha
    • Zander Miller, Kenosha Public Library
    • Brandon Morris, Building Our Future Kenosha County
  • Lake Geneva
    • Emily Kornak, Lake Geneva Public Library
    • Jill Rodriguez, Lake Geneva Rotary Club
  • Marinette County
    • Jennifer Thiele, Marinette County Library System
    • Rebecca Livick, Marinette County Library System
    • Samantha Smith, Potowatomi Cultural Center
  • Monona
    • Jenna Assmus, Monona Public Library
    • Mark Buffat, Monona Sustainability Committee
  • Oregon
    • Kelly Allen, Oregon Public Library
    • Amy Miller, Oregon School District
  • Platteville
    • Kelli Miller, Platteville Public Library
    • Kelly Podach Francis, University of Wisconsin-Platteville
  • Plymouth
    • Leslie Jochman, Plymouth Public Library
    • Kathryn Murray, Plymouth Joint School District
    • Trisha Thomas, Generations Intergenerational Center
  • Richland Center
    • Martha Bauer, Brewer Public Library
    • Stacy Pilla, Brewer Public Library
    • Chelsea Wunnicke, Extension Richland County
  • Waukesha
    • Kerry Pinkner, Waukesha Public Library
    • Julie Valadez, Hispanic Collaborative Network
    • Amanda Medina-Roddy, School District of Waukesha

WLTC Engaged Leadership Academy

A cohort of 20 librarians from across the state participated in the first WLTC Engaged Leadership Academy in the Fall of 2021. During the 10-week series led by WLTC trainers from Thriving Libraries, participants gained confidence in their leadership ability, developed deep listening and facilitation skills, learned how to authentically engage their communities, and built skills as change agents within their library and the community it serves.

The cohort includes library staff from 12 library systems, serving communities big, small, and in between:

  • Sarah Adam: Vaughn Library (Ashland)
  • Kelly Allen: Oregon Public Library
  • Martha Bauer: Brewer Public Library (Richland Center)
  • Denise Chojnacki: Rhinelander District Library
  • Brandi Cummings: Kenosha Public Library
  • Alejandria Galarza: Kenosha Public Library
  • Julia Heiser: Racine Public Library
  • Svetha Hetzler: Sun Prairie Public Library
  • Rachel Hitt: Black Creek Village Library
  • Kaushalya Iyengar: Town Hall Library (Merton)
  • Hannah Kane: North Shore Library (Glendale)
  • Therese Lyons: Waukesha Public Library
  • Leslie Mehle: Superior Public Library
  • Susie Menk: Manitowoc Public Library
  • Elizabeth O'Hara: Community Library (Salem Lakes)
  • Karli Pederson: Milwaukee Public Library-Central Library
  • Isa Small: L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library (Eau Claire)
  • Martha Spangler: Altoona Public Library
  • Christinna Swearingen: Schreiner Memorial Library (Lancaster)
  • Cole Zrostlik: Winding Rivers Library System
For questions about this information, contact Beth Tomev (608) 266-7410