Online Courses for Small and Rural Library Workers
American Library Association Public Programs
ALA is committed to sustaining community engagement work in the field. Over the recent years, the Libraries Transforming Community initiative has worked to build the capacity for library workers to improve the well-being of their communities by equipping them with the skills necessary to listen to and lead conversations on important local and national issues. A more robust array of professional development materials fostering this work in libraries is a priority of ALA.
ALA’s Public Programs division approached us with the need for a more dynamic way to provide professional development to libraries in small and rural communities. Utilizing the content of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, ALA was interested in offering engaging learning experiences in order to build the facilitation skills of library workers.
We designed a series of multimodal interactive e-courses that armed these adult learners with a powerful new set of community engagement tools. We took a “project-based learning for adults” approach, grounding the courses in the real, nuanced experiences of library workers in small and rural communities. The courses centered the voices of library workers speaking about their experiences navigating the complex world of community voices, varied needs, politics, and conflict transformation. We built resources, interactives, and custom conversation planning tools in order to guide learners to create a concrete, usable plan for facilitating community conversations.