Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The First Community Council Meeting

I had a lot of anxiety going into this meeting.  I was worried that either too many people would show up, or that no one would show up.  Cecil B. Moore's meeting room is not that large, and too large of a crowd would have been uncomfortable for everyone.  All six of the North Philadelphia Neighborhood Library Managers were very diligent about distributing the invitation.  We had RSVP's from close to 50 people from various organizations, large and small.  Fortunately, in regards to space, not everyone came.  We had approximately 30 people from a variety of groups.

Each attendee was given a sign-in sheet which asked for complete contact information.  It also provided space for comments in response to two questions.  The following are the responses, with an indication of the organization the respondent was representing.

  1. Which Free Library of Philadelphia services could assist my organization or enhance my community.
a.      Materials
                                                              i.      More Spanish materials (Providence Center)
b.      Space
                                                              i.      Hosting meetings (Philly Rising)
                                                            ii.      Portable board in the vestibule for current events ( Falomi)
                                                          iii.      Meeting space to conduct character building workshops (Sturdivant)
c.       Hours
                                                              i.      Saturday Hours ( Falomi Club)
d.      Program
                                                              i.      Job Readiness, Literacy, after school, STEM (Philly Rising) 
e.      Computers
                                                              i.      Any/all computer access and training services. Specifically for job preparation (Philly Rising)
f.        Outreach/Partnership
                                                              i.      Book or topic talks @ summer day camps or Wed. night youth groups (Philly Open Air Church)
                                                            ii.      Attend Final Friday Community Dinners 
                                                          iii.      Networking opportunities to leverage the services we provide (Sturdivant)
                                                           iv.      Libraries host Intro to Jazz Workshops – free concerts (Philadelphia Jazz Project)
                                                             v.      Help to get word out about Clarifi (Clarifi.)

  1. 2.  Comments
a.      Libraries across the city have been terrific partner for these services and we hope to expand to more (PhillyRising)
b.      Would like to offer workshops to the Free Library, starting with this group of libraries (Philadelphia Jazz Project)
c.       The library is a place of learning.  I’d like to see more STEM (Men and Women for Human Excellence)
d.      My family loves the story time for toddlers at LMB.  It would be good to do the story time on Saturdays when other preschoolers are not in preschool
e.      The library should seek funding for prime time advertisement telling residents just how the library can make a difference in their lives using real people who have benefited from their library experience.  
f.        This is a great opportunity as it affords organizations the opportunity to leverage social capital.
There was no formal agenda for this meeting.  We allowed the representative from each of the organizations to describe the work they do in the neighborhood, and for other people to ask questions.  When all of the groups were finished, each of the six library managers had a chance to tell the group about their library and what makes it unique.
Most of those present were from grassroots organizations.  One is working with the formerly incarcerated to help them be job ready and get employment.  Several groups are working with children, especially in the areas of math and science.  The value in this was that some of these groups had no idea of the existence of the others and were able to network.  (I see this as a “real” value-added benefit of these meetings. I don’t know that high-level work will be accomplished here.)  The “higher” level groups present, (Clarifi, Philly Rising, SEPTA and Phila Police, Mayors Commission on Literacy, as well as the library) were able to get their messages out to the grassroots organizations.  There were multiple “ah-ha” moments among them.
Based on some of the activities shared, we were able to tell the group about resources they can access immediately, such as Learning Express Library and the Job and Career Help Center on our databases page.

We are planning the next meeting for some time at the end of February, or the beginning of March.

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