….Our preconceived notions of what libraries “are” have created barriers to engaging them in strategic problem solving and community building. Now is the time to step back into your library to recognize and strategically plan how libraries can help with community issues.
A manager’s openness to engage the library demonstrates a willingness to take a holistic approach to community problem solving and the enhancement of his or her organizational toolkit. ICMA’s work with public libraries began more than five years ago4 with a series of community-specific projects intended to demonstrate that a strong partnership between the local government manager’s office and the library staff is a productive strategy.
The goal of these efforts is to provide resources that help strengthen the manager-library partnership and to develop strategic and innovative ways to improve the lives of residents. While the library director and local government manager may be separately offering dynamic, relevant, and innovative services, the sky’s the limit when the two partner together (see sidebar, “Working Together” for tips on building effective partnerships). Here are two case studies that provide a closer look at what is possible…..