November 17, 2017

Aspen in Action | Community Engagement

“We needed to change the conversation about libraries,” says Gina Millsap, CEO of Kansas’s Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library (TSCPL), the 2016 Gale/LJ Library of the Year. Millsap refers to her ongoing work with the Aspen Institute, an international leadership development nonprofit that has turned a lens toward public libraries. In October 2014, Aspen sparked a conversation about the future of libraries with its release of a report titled “Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries.” TSCPL served as a case study. “The report gave us a framework and concepts to take out to the community,” Millsap tells LJ. As libraries engaged with the report, it became clear that many wanted more hands-on guidance about how to take recommendations from Rising to the Challenge and turn them into practical, achievable goals. In response, Aspen developed a new toolkit featuring 12 chapters of “ACTivities” covering topics such as “The Library as Civic Resource,” “The Library as Literacy Champion,” and “Jobs and Economic Development” to help libraries dig into the work of transformation, released in January as the “Action Guide for Re-Envisioning Your Public Library.”

Aspen Institute Releases New Action Guide for Public Libraries | ALA Midwinter 2016

The Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries (DPL) unveiled its newest publication at a session at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting. The Action Guide for Re-Envisioning Your Public Library, a set of resources to be used in connection with DPL’s report Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries, was released simultaneously with the session on January 10. On hand to launch the Action Guide were DPL director Amy Garmer; DPL advisor (and ALA past president) Maureen Sullivan; and John Palfrey, author of the recent BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More than Ever in the Age of Google (Basic Books) and a 2011 LJ Mover & Shaker (among many other roles).