Libraries participating in the Wisconsin Libraries Transforming Communities cohort are highlighted in a statewide community engagement report released today by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The WLTC 2020-2021 Final Report and Evaluation shares the outcomes of the 18-month training program developed in partnership with the American Library Association. The ALA defines community engagement as, “The process of working collaboratively with community members — be they library customers, residents, faculty, students or partner organizations— to address issues for the betterment of the community.”
36 coaches and team members from 14 counties in 12 different library systems were selected to participate. The program, which ran from February 2020 through August 2021, trained participants on how to build deep, authentic relationships in their community to inform the development of library policies, practices, and services. The program, which developers intended to be a hybrid of in-person trainings and webinars, turned to all virtual due to the pandemic. Despite the redirection of the project, libraries were able to bring communities together to address issues identified in community conversations.
The program results are detailed in the report and a number of the trainings are publicly available on the DPI website. Case studies in the report may provide an example for other libraries seeking to build to expand and strengthen their community partnerships. For example, in Kenosha, team members created a video series of interviews with diverse community leaders to showcase the city’s unique culture. And in Eau Claire, community members came together to give input on a library policy, resulting in a policy that reflects the community’s aspirations, as well as a process for reviewing policies moving forward that builds in accountability and community input. For more information on WLTC, please visit the DPI website or go to Team Spotlights for additional library projects.