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.
Franklin Supports Youth Mental Health With Music, Multigenerational Mix
- Laura Gravander: Teen Services and Outreach Librarian, Franklin Public Library
- Lauren Gottlieb: Public Health Specialist, City of Franklin Health Department
- Ellen Henry: Drug-Free Community Coalition Coordinator, City of Franklin Health Department
- Ryan Claringbole: WLTC Coach, Monona Public Library
Polkas, 50s rock, and Bluegrass music in the air and library craft kits, tie-dye shirts, and surveys on hand, the Franklin WLTC team worked to bring generations of its community together. The team developed a series of summer concert events in Franklin Park to foster mental health and service awareness. Team members said being unable to gather during the pandemic brought more attention to community programming and its ability to gather sometimes disparate sectors of an entire community together.
“The library is willing to support so many initiatives in the community,” said Ellen Henry, Drug-Free Community Coalition Coordinator for the City of Franklin Health Department. She noted Franklin Public Library’s ongoing work in strengthening health literacy and its ability to serve as a central gathering space, “It helps you get connected to community members who might otherwise be unreachable—not just adults. It’s children. It’s seniors. It’s teenagers. It’s all ages of all backgrounds."
The Franklin Public Library and the City of Franklin Health Department brought in a third partner, Volition Franklin, an organization that pulls together a wide variety of individuals and groups to prevent alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use. Together they designed programs to further existing youth engagement in their organizations and to use the power of those relationships to confront difficult realities that factor into youth mental health and substance use. This summer, they sponsored tables at the series of five concerts made possible by Franklin Park Concerts, Inc. With the help of WLTC team efforts, multigenerational family attendance at the concerts soared.
Henry said the WLTC program helped Franklin team members better understand how important self-advocacy is in creating a successful and sustainable initiative. The WLTC program served as an opportunity to discover even more ways to continue working together, to enhance currently offered programming, and to engage the community more deeply in critical youth substance misuse prevention efforts.
See more posts on the WI Libraries for Everyone page.