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Community Engagement Summit gathered, energized, and inspired

The culmination of the Michigan Libraries Engage project, a partnership of MCLS and the Library of Michigan (with some federal funding from the Institute of Museum & Library Services) was a Community Engagement Summit, held on September 27, 2018, in East Lansing, Michigan. The Summit brought together many of the 150 members of the cohorts for a full day event of presentations, discussions, and the chance to come together and be revitalized in the efforts of community engagement.

Rich Harwood, Founder and CEO of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, was the keynote speaker, and presented on “Libraries and Engagement.” The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation is a  nonpartisan, independent nonprofit that teaches, coaches, and inspires people and organizations to solve pressing problems and change how communities work together. Under his leadership, the Institute’s tools and approaches for deepening impact and change have spread to thousands of communities in the U.S. and nearly 40 countries, and through partnerships with some of the world’s largest nonprofits including United Way Worldwide, the Corporation for Public broadcasting, the American Library Association, and AARP. You can read Rich’s full bio here.

The day also included presentations from Courtney Breese, Director of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) and Mary Davis Fournier, Director of Public Programs for the American Library Association, who spoke about national community engagement efforts and methods, and Cindy Fesemyer, Director of the Columbus (WI) Public Library, who led an interactive activity on Community Mapping. There was also a panel of Michigan library cohort participants who shared their stories of successful community engagement: Amanda McLaren of Benzonia Public Library, Julie Meredith of Clarkston Independence District Library, and Erin Schmandt of Caro Area District Library. Bios of the presenters can be found here.

More than 150 library staff and board members from Michigan and beyond registered to attend the Summit. The day was energizing and inspiring, and we look forward to seeing what comes next for community engagement within the Michigan library community. Anyone interested in learning more about this project or the work of community engagement is encouraged to visit the project website at