Our library embraces a turning outward approach. This is an intentional process, a stance, for listening to and learning about our community. It also means we make the choice to ground library work in the community’s shared aspirations.
Since 2014, we have turned outward, listening, learning, and acting on feedback from library patrons, governmental peers, community members, and community partners. All have shared their hopes, dreams, and emerging concerns. Through continued conversation, shared aspirations in Oak Park include literacy, education, diversity, inclusion, equity, empathy, health, safety, and affordability.
Aspirations in action
How has turning outward affected how the library engages with its community? Here are a few examples:
- Hosting Oak Park’s Harwood Public Innovators Lab in December 2020. Learn more »
- Launching a resource delivery service to preschools and daycares, and creating Social-Emotional Learning Kits to support early childhood educators.
- Prioritizing staff happiness, well-being, and success by taking a more holistic approach to staff wellness, including creating a Staff Well-Being Committee.
- Pursuing collaborative opportunities identified in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Community Building Blocks recommendations report.
- Hiring a social worker and built a safety and security team to serve our most vulnerable patrons.
- Adopting and curating a multicultural collection for encouraging empathy and developing global citizens.
- Addressing equity and increased access by removing overdue fines and fees for nonprofit rental of meeting spaces.
- Creating strategic priorities of engagement, learning, and stewardship.
- Revising the library’s vision to empower every voice in our community.
- Updating the library’s mission to share information, services, and opportunities that fulfill those aspirations.
- Unifying internal operations and strengthening strategic partnerships for wider and deeper community impact.
In his own words, Library Executive Director David J. Seleb explains the impact of turning outward in this short video, created by The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation »
Thank you for “Building Community in Today’s World”
More than 100 community members, stakeholders, and library staff attended sessions with Rich Harwood, president and founder of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and creator of the turning outward practice. On Thursday, April 4, and Friday, April 5, 2019, Oak Park had incredible two days of learning. Stories related to that visit include “Community as as Common Enterprise” and “Why I wear a flag pin.”
Host a conversation, become a public innovator
Contact Executive Director David J. Seleb, 708.697.6911, firstname.lastname@example.org.