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Engaging the Library in Community Planning

This was the Third Program in "The Library as Community Center" series and was originally held on May 8, 2012.

Engaging the Library in Community Planning

Eric Gustafson photo
Presented by Eric Gustafson, the Director of the Derby Public Library and former director of the Morrill Library in Hiawatha.

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Presentation Slides

Eric drew on his experiences in both these Kansas cities since they were different communities and had different human resources. One of his major messages is that a library director should not define the community's leadership narrowly, but should network widely and get to know as many people as possible. It isn't possible to predict who will become a major library supporter or who will understand that the library is an important community center in the information age.

Some librarians are lucky enough to have a very positive relationship  with city officials, while others have officials who aren't that interested in the library. To some extent, library administrators will have to invite themselves to the community planning tables, using patience and impeccable courtesy.

In the real world, people support other people when they know them and like them and see them support the community's common goals. A library staff that is active in community affairs can be the best possible partner to effective library planning. A library staff that supports community initiatives is more likely to gain effective library support.

Eric also emphasized that outgoing friendliness must be balanced with professional style and personal discretion. The library's major priorities should be presented in clear, succinct messages that emphasize the benefits to the community.

A variety of community groups were mentioned in the presentation including government leaders, business owners, educators, local media, major community clubs, foundation directors, and marketing specialists.

The participants had time for a lively discussion that emphasized that many different styles could be effective in library and community planning and that all the major library players would need to be involved for long-term success.


|     Last modified: May 30, 2013