Community Connections

Connecting the Dots with Tom Vitale of Patterson Library Westfield, NY
11 a.m. ET / 10 a.m. CT

What’s so vital about a library being connected to community resources? Does this mean just the not-for-profits in my community? As libraries across the nation continue to transform into community centers, business incubators, pre-schools, and employment/transitional service providers, why is it so important that my library get on board? There are SO many organizations to collaborate with, it can be overwhelming – how and where do I start? On the other end of the spectrum, especially in rural communities, there are so few collaborators – do I expand outside of my service area? Through this presentation we will tackle the ins and outs of connecting the dots together!

Tom Vitale currently serves as the Director of the Patterson Library, in Westfield, NY. Previously he served as the Outreach Coordinator for the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System, the most western cooperative library system in New York State. In 2018, his peers elected him to the New York Library Association Council, after having served in multiple capacities on the Rural Libraries Round Table, and the Library Access Round Table. Recently, seeing a need for more resources and support for colleagues identifying as LGBTQIA, Tom worked with three other NYLA members to found the LGBTQIA Round Table. Tom has undergraduate degrees in elementary education from SUNY College at Fredonia, and liberal studies from Clarion University of PA, as well as graduate degrees in social work from Stony Brook University, and library science from Clarion University of PA.

Ask, Listen, Act with Amber Williams of Spokane County Library District
1 p.m. ET / 12 noon CT

When you ask a community what its wants and aspirations are the library can listen and use what it hears to create meaningful community connections. Using examples from many years and iterations of engaged strategic planning Amber Williams will share some of her favorite success stories about community impact. From finding the right partners to recognizing library limitations she will cover what she sums up as the cycle of sustainable community engagement; ask, listen act.

Amber Williams has worked in public libraries for more than a decade in Washington. Her community engagement work earned her recognition from Library Journal as a 2019 Mover & Shaker and an “Advances in Library Services” award from Washington Library Association (WLA) in 2017. To help keep a broad view of library work she currently serves as an American Library Association Council member-at-large and is a past WLA chair of the Public Library Division. Amber has presented about community engagement endeavors and strategies at PLA, ALA, WLA and various national webinars. Her latest project includes working with librarians in the Wisconsin Libraries Transforming Communities initiative.

Mind the Gap: Connecting Academic Libraries and Campus Communities with Nancy Kranich of Rutgers University School of Communication and Information
2 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. CT

How can academic librarians articulate a clear vision of their changing roles on campus as faculty and administrators overlook much of the transformation underway? To date, no single, compelling narrative has emerged to replace the metaphors of yesteryear. This session will address how librarians can bridge the gap between traditional perceptions and new paradigms about their value and identity. The presentation will highlight some of the disconnects between how faculty see us and how we see ourselves in today’s academic enterprise. It will then discuss why academic libraries should turn outward toward their campus communities to reimagine their roles from collecting to connecting.  By recalibrating our interactions on campus and unleashing new possibilities, academic librarians can occupy a more visible, valued role, build partnerships, and “get in the flow of our users.” 

Nancy Kranich teaches community engagement, information policy and intellectual freedom at the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information and works on special projects with the Rutgers University Libraries. A past president of the American Library Association (ALA), Kranich founded ALA’s Center for Civic Life and the Libraries Foster Community Engagement Membership Initiative Group. Trained as a public innovator with the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, she serves on the board of the Kettering Foundation’s National Issues Forums Institute and moderates Hidden Common Ground for Action online forums. She holds an MPA from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service, and an MA in Library Science and a BA in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin.