Written by Dawn Tevis
Wisconsin Libraries Transforming Communities (WLTC) program provides a pathway by which public library and community teams develop and establish sustainable partnerships. These partnerships highlight the vital role libraries play within a community and the importance of community engagement. This series of 7 weekly articles is the result of the creative relationships and initiatives created by the WLTC 2020-21 cohort, libraries, and community organizations. The results of their work include a deeper level of understanding of and responsiveness to each partner’s needs and resources. Together, the groups are shaping one another’s evolution and helping to ensure Wisconsin libraries continue to serve at the forefront of equity and innovation within local communities.
Diverse Brodhead Partnerships Catalyze Powerful Connection Despite Pandemic
- Angela Noel: Director, Brodhead Memorial Public Library
- Sabrina Meichtry: Social Worker, Stateline Mental Health Services Team
- Leah Langby: WLTC Coach, IFLS Library System
Team Brodhead credits the community conversations inspired by the WLTC program for its success in developing new ways to listen and hear residents’ needs extending well beyond the library itself. Team members, Angela Noel and Sabrina Meichtry, discovered community members wanted meaningful connection with local and state government, area organizations, and each other. Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, the WLTC Team designed a series of projects to do just that.
“Our community members care about community and want to be involved, but they need more options and opportunities,” Noel said. “We tried to pick projects that were achievable and benefited the most people. And we have other things on our bucket list that we’ll do to keep momentum going.”
The team initiated a series of activities with UW-Extension Green County to help participants better understand how government works. Virtual presentations focused on activities of varying levels of government and offered tips on finding and evaluating credible information. Attendees also spoke directly with state and federal government representatives in breakout rooms
Another project partnered Brodhead with local high school students to develop Cardinal Talks, 5 to 10-minute videos produced by the students and made available to the community. Cardinal Talks have featured the library, the town’s new aviation museum, and the middle school’s volunteer group TOOL (Team of Outstanding Leaders).
Hoping to connect more community members with the local parks, Team Brodhead contacted students at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and arranged the creation of four communication boards. The boards were installed at four area parks and feature words in Spanish and English, as well as a non-verbal or picture representation, to better support understanding among area youth with a variety of communication needs.
According to Noel, one of the most helpful aspects of the WLTC program was the coaching component. Biweekly interactions with their coach, Leah Langby of the IFLS Library System, provided perspective outside of their immediate community that motivated the innovative direction of their projects and energized their work.
See more posts on the WI Libraries for Everyone page.