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Librarians Facilitate Community Change

Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, KS

Problem Statement

  1. Reinventing the role of librarians in the 21st century and helping librarians realize their full potential.
  2. Helping reconcile diverse perspectives and teaching people how to reach consensus with the goal of making the community a better place to live, work and learn.
  3. Demonstrating the value of librarians as trusted community change agents
  4. Building community capacity by growing the number of people who can work together effectively, make better decisions, and get things done.


  • Library CEO becomes chair of Heartland Visioning community process on the condition that the organization commit to building leadership capacity.
  • Heartland Visioning offered the opportunity to community members and vision partner employees to receive facilitation and meeting participation training from Leadership Strategies.
  • Library staff and partners facilitated public meetings for Heartland Visioning to establish what people want from their community now and in the future.
  • The library offered additional training to managers and librarians with the goal of changing the library’s culture to increase productivity, improve communication and participation, and achieve superior outcomes.
  • As a result, we now have a cohort of trained facilitators who work within the library and in the community to help groups of smart people achieve great things together.


The library is now invited to facilitate for other organizations.

  • Kansas Research Nexus – facilitated strategic planning process for three local Chambers of Commerce to develop a regional economic development partnership
  • Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods – facilitated launching of coalition focused on improving Shawnee County through government, non-profit, education and business partnerships
  • Topeka Downtown Rotary – facilitated strategic planning process
  • Community Health Improvement Plan – facilitated workgroup to establish goals, outcomes, and strategies
  • Fast Forward, Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce – leading and facilitating rebranding and statewide
  • Young Professionals summit Shawnee County Parks and Recreation – initiated and facilitated development of partnership between the library (which has no branches) and community centers including shared computer labs, collaborative programs and installation of a SmartLocker to pickup library reserves.