Saturday 1 June 2013

Blog every day in June!

Hi everyone!

Welcome to day one of June and the ALIA Sydney Group 'Blog every day in June' program!
Every day this month a new post will appear on our blog from a range of exciting guest bloggers and the Sydney gang discussing some amazing library and information concepts and ideas.

Make sure you tune in all this month to join the excitement!

I'll start off with a chat about some excellent ideas I gathered at a workshop I attended last week:

Are you looking for new programming or service ideas for your library users? Have you asked your community yet? Have you thought about what they could bring to the table that you could use or build upon?

Last week I attended a workshop on ABCD in libraries. ABCD is about Asset Based Community Development and during the program we looked at the assets that our communities have, and discussed how we can utilise these to build our services and create stronger relationships with our users. The day was run by the Family Action Centre at Newcastle Uni. You can read further on their blog here
The assets of the community could include the talents and passions of members of the community, the heritage and local identity of the community and the networks, agencies, institutions and organisations such as sporting clubs, Lions and Rotary, RSLs, schools and churches.

Building relationships with these groups means getting active and getting out of the library to talk to different parts of the community to make the connection. Find the leaders of these groups and begin a conversation with them. Being proactive and creative will assist the library to communicate the new role we have all taken on, of being a community hub full of activity rather than only a repository of books. 
An element of the workshop that I found particularly useful is to talk to community groups about what they think are the strengths of the community and what is valued the most in the community, rather than asking 'what are the problems in the community that we need to address?'  This subtle 'glass half full' approach focuses on the positive and on building on the good things that are already happening. This can create an positive atmosphere around a project, rather than a feeling of being deficient from focusing on the negative. There may be an increase in ownership of and participation in a project, rather than a feeling of being patronised.

The things I learnt from the workshop are that through creativity, using connections that we already have and using the skills that already exist in the community, libraries can feel a lot more confident to take some risks, come up with some amazing new services and create a sense of trust and partnership amongst the community.
Before the workshop I did a little research into the concept and came across this article on Chicago Libraries

Have you run any projects with community groups in your area? How did you start the conversation? Do you have any advice to other libraries?
I look forward to hearing your ideas!
Have a great day


  1. Hmm, I like the 'glass half full idea'. I have seen some stuff in my community lately which emphasizes the bad, and completely overlooks the good. Different approach might yield much better results for us, esp with our teenss

  2. Megan Ingle and I have been thinking about this too. In New Zealand, we're running four events for librarians on libraries and community partnerships. They're free and virtual, so anyone anywhere can join in. More details can be found here:

  3. A saying I heard back in my Toastmasters day struck me as relevant to this discussion last month. "Marinating in material" can just as easily be "marinating in opportunities". It was a lightbulb moment (not sure why I hadn't thought of it before- just slow I guess) when I was talking to my Bank. Financial literacy, Roadcodes and driver's licences, all sorts of possibilities. I'm also a big believer in using your existing networks and knowledge and that you never get a Yes if you don't ask the question.