Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Cluster in the community

This post is written and submitted by Judi Moore, Manager at McPherson Square Library. 

At one of the first cluster library managers meetings we set about to determine what our goals should be for this grand cluster experiment.  We quickly determined that one of the most important things to all of us was community involvement.  With that in mind, we decided to reach out to other community groups by hosting a series of meetings.  They were invited to have lunch with us.  At the first lunch/meeting we filled the meeting room at Cecil B. Moore library.  Our goal had been to learn what the community wanted from us and how the community could support us.  However, it turned out that the impact of the gathering was broader than we’d expected.  Not only did the participants focus on their relationship with the cluster libraries, but they also began brainstorming on what they could do with one another.  After the meeting I saw people talking excitedly.  I overheard, “I didn’t know you did that!” and “I could help you with that.”  There was a real buzz in the room.
 Our second community meeting was at the Rodriguez library.  For this meeting we broke into small groups to brainstorm.  In my group a SEPTA transit police officer was interested in what he could do to help the Kensington and McPherson libraries, since we are along the El corridor.  He has since been in contact with me, and has sent some of his officers in to sign our log book.  I had no idea the transit police would be interested in problems we have here in McPherson Square Park.  Another man in our small group was a community artist.  He was interested in more art programs in libraries.  He was amazed and delighted to learn about the Maker programs going on at McPherson and Kensington libraries.  Marcela told him about the 3D printer project at Kensington, and I talked about the etextiles and our trashbag fashion show.  At the beginning of our meeting he was clearly disgruntled and on a mission to demand more arts programming.  By the end  of our breakout session his negative attitude had thoroughly turned around to great enthusiasm. 

We’re planning another cluster community meeting soon, and I’m looking forward to meeting more people and learning about what they are doing in the community, and how we can work together.

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