3 C’s for Leading Community Engagement Initiatives in Academic Libraries

Session Description

Libraries have always been about connecting with their communities. For academic libraries, particularly those in high density, low-income urban areas, the need to provide service to non-affiliated neighbors is an increasingly essential element of the university and library mission. A tension, historically characterized as the “town-gown” conflict, will over time negatively impact the institution’s relationship with its local community. The shift towards positive engagement with their communities is an opportunity for academic librarians to advance their own mission and that of the institution. Public and private academic libraries have resources to benefit community members. Examples include access to computers, internet resources, technology support, job assistance, cultural programming and materials borrowing. These services help the institution demonstrate community engagement and the effort to improve the quality of life. Attendees, particularly with leadership aspirations, will learn how to incorporate three Cs, curiosity, collaboration and conviction, into their leadership practice in order to: [a] influence colleagues to support external community engagement; [b] create a welcoming and inclusive environment that invites, by design, neighbors to feel the library is their resource; and [c] position the library as a campus leader in forging relationships with internal and external partners.


Steven J. Bell, Associate University Librarian, Temple University

Steven J. Bell
Steven J. Bell is the Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services at Temple University. He writes and speaks about academic librarianship, learning technologies, library leadership, higher education, open and affordable learning, design thinking and user experience. He authored two regular columns for Library Journal Academic Newswire, “From the Bell Tower” and “Leading From the Library” from 2009 through 2019. He is co-author of the book “Academic Librarianship by Design” and editor of the book “Crucible Moments: Inspiring Library Leadership”. Bell is currently an adjunct faculty member for the San Jose State University iSchool where he teaches design thinking and open education librarianship.

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