The 5 Essentials For Creating Community-Centered Libraries

An Intensive 4-Week Course for Building Strong Libraries and Better, Engaged Communities

April 19–May 10, 2017

Live Sessions on Wednesdays at 11:00 AM ET: April 19, 26, May 3 & 10

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Five Essential Components

Join peers from the U.S. and beyond to hear from leading library directors doing innovative work to learn why and how librarians are taking advantage of powerful community engagement tools and—more important—applying what they learn to create highly collaborative, people-centered libraries and communities. This deep dive online course is designed to impact all staff and stakeholders from front line staff to the director’s chair. We’ll provide a step-by-step guide to turn your community engagement ideas into a powerful roadmap for setting direction, measuring outcomes, and leading your community.

Participants will learn

This instructor-led online course features weekly guest speakers and personalized interaction to combine real-time learning with ongoing group discussions over four weeks. Participants access course materials, slides, and exercises prior to and throughout the course’s start. This approach allows you to focus on the coursework when you have time each week and apply key concepts to your immediate work as you continue to engage with the materials and guests learning through weekly interaction, collaboration and workshop activities that all take place online.

Throughout your deep dive experience, you will be guided through the five essential components model and provided with tips, tools, and techniques for creating a highly-collaborative community-centered library. You’ll walk away with tools for discovering and contributing to your community through outreach, relationship-building, and meaningful programming.

Online course features

  • Instructor-led online courses feature personalized interaction over four weeks
  • Real-time guest speakers and conversation via live webcast (with recordings available afterward)
  • Weekly assignments to help you make progress on your goals
  • Individualized attention from course facilitators who work with you in a coaching environment to help sort out challenges
  • Ongoing group conversation via discussion forums
  • Articles, videos and other resources

In this archived webcast, David Bendekovic, President of the B. A. David Company and Program Developer and Lead Instructor at the Pennsylvania Library Association Academy for Leadership Studies, provides a close-up look at the upcoming 5 Essentials for Creating Community-Centered Libraries.

Group discounts are available!

Register in groups for a unique team-building experience and get everyone working together. Contact us to learn more.


Course Schedule

WEEK 1: Wednesday, April 19, 2017

SESSION 1: Orientation

10:30-11:00 AM ET

Join us for the kick-off of class, as well as a guided tour of the online classroom. We’ll explain how the assignments and facilitated group discussions work, and take any of your questions to help get you set up for our live opening guest speaker session.

SESSION 2: Understanding What We Believe In, Why We Exist, and How We Can Serve Our Communities

11:00 AM-12:15 PM ET

Library directors who have overseen dramatic change at their institutions share personal stories of how to find deeper purpose for your work, library, and community.

  • Hear from Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library CEO Gina Millsap as she discusses a partnership to advance broadband technology in her Kansas community to promote 21st century work skills and digital entrepreneurship, close the digital divide where it exists, and enhance digital literacy.
  • Through Pam Sandlian Smith‘s leadership, the public library system she oversees in Colorado went from being the worst funded system in the state to one of the most recognized library brands nationwide through the creation of an entirely new service model.
  • Nashville Public Library leader Kent Oliver discusses his thoughts on turning district libraries into the place where people turn to solve complex community problems—like education and literacy, his passion projects.


A weekly assignment will prompt you to begin the work of finding a deeper purpose for your work and library.


Headshot_Circle_DavidBendekovic Headshot_Circle_GinaMillsap Headshot_Circle_PamSandlianSmith Headshot_Circle_KentOliver
David Bendekovic, President of the B. A. David Company and Program Developer and Lead Instructor at the Pennsylvania Library Association Academy For Leadership Studies
Gina Millsap, CEO, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (KS)
Pam Sandlian Smith, Director, Anythink Libraries (CO)
Kent Oliver, Director, Nashville Public Library (TN)

WEEK 2: Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Purposeful Action through Public Knowledge

11:00 AM-12:30 PM ET

In 2017 Oak Park (Illinois) Public Library director David Seleb is removing fines, changing security (following the 2016 death of a man in a library bathroom), and instituting an artist in residence program that calls on a local poet and vocalist to work with teen and tween patrons. Under his direction, his library’s philosophy has evolved into a service model that includes access and equity. He’ll share details of how his philosophy for the library grew out of clear needs from the community.


Create purposeful action through public knowledge by leading one or more community conversations.


David Seleb, Executive Director, Oak Park Public Library (IL)

WEEK 3: Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Determining What Matters Most Through Verified Impressions and Actual Data

11:00 AM-12:30 PM ET

Named Ohio library director of the year in 2015 by her peers, Heidi Daniel has instituted pop-up libraries at community events, overseen multiple construction projects while keeping the library debt-free, and managed to reduce the library’s levy so that a ballot issue lowered people’s library property taxes. In this session, she’ll detail how she gathers insights that drive her community and financial decisions and how you can apply similar principles.


Gather data to build verified impressions.


Heidi Daniel, Executive Director, The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County (OH)

WEEK 4: Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Creating Opportunity, Building Community, Inspiring Innovation

11:00 AM-12:30 PM ET

Sacramento Public Library director Rivkah Sass is passionate about public libraries and their impact on creating healthy, vibrant communities. Her goal is to help her library be recognized as a national model for engaged and creative staff and as the community’s heart. She has accomplished that by tapping into her broad network to bring forward thought leaders on sustainability and contributed her creativity to the program scope—including having Klean Kanteen CEO Jim Osgood talk about socially responsible corporations and the imperative of mission-driven work. Sass’s high-energy engagement—which emanates from the library into the city, region, and beyond—is exhilarating and highly valuable. She’ll share her work and philosophy and provide tips on how you can apply some of these ideas to your work.


Create your methodology for making complex choices, formulating key decisions, and setting direction.


Rivkah Sass, Executive Director, Sacramento Public Library (CA)