In the fall of 2013 MCLS began utilizing the process, tools, and framework developed by the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation. In Harwood's words these tools were designed "to solve pressing problems and change how communities work together." The initial purpose for MCLS was mostly to facilitate greater engagement with its membership. However, almost immediately the potential benefits to the greater library community and the communities they serve became apparent. To learn more about how MCLS began down this path please read our "Turning outward" blog entry from February 27, 2014.
The basic tenet of the Harwood philosophy is the concept of "Turning Outward"; literally changing ones orientation to the community and not inward to your own organization. "Turning Outward makes the community and the people the reference point for getting things done." Read more about the Harwood concept of "Turning Outward".
In 2013 MCLS staff then began attending Harwood training labs and began facilitating a series of community conversations with library staff across Michigan and Indiana. Conversation attendees were invited from all library types—public, academic, and special. The dynamics of involving a multi-type library group enhanced the experience for many. Several attendees, from all rounds of conversations, came away asserting the benefit of sitting down with librarians of another ilk, something many admitted they rarely did. Initially only library directors or their designee were invited. In subsequent rounds the conversations were open to all library staff.
Building momentum and partnerships, both the Indiana Library Federation and the Library of Michigan have begun participating in the Harwood process and have been partners in community conversations.
See the timeline of our MCLS library Community Conversations and find out what we learned.
If you want to become involved, read about our current collaborative project with the Library of Michigan to train a cohort of up to 50 Michigan library staff in the Harwood method.