The Los Angeles County Library is devoted to making its services available to everyone in its service area. To this end, it has partnered with Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) to come up with innovative ways to strengthen their connection with the community and help people in the neighborhoods address the issues they care about. The local LTC team started by focusing their efforts on the Van Nuys branch, with the idea that if they could demonstrate the power and effectiveness of implementing their training through LTC, they would create a model that could be replicated in other parts of the system. The team was initially successful, but personnel changes forced them to reevaluate their plans. The team has been working on an alternative strategy that is based on training staff at all levels of the system to plant the seeds of change and alter the institutional culture.
During these conversations, they discovered that there were similarities between various types of people, particularly between different age groups. They wanted a safer, more connected community that offered clean and accessible public spaces. Although 80 percent of American public libraries serve populations of less than 25,000, the Van Nuys branch alone, in the Los Angeles system, serves 100,000 people. The Los Angeles LTC team, composed of the Van Nuys branch manager, a member of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council, and two library system staff members who focus on training and community outreach, set out to apply what they had learned after attending an initial training on LTC led by The Harwood Institute. They gave a presentation on Turning Outward for the managers of the 11 branches in the Van Nuys region of the Los Angeles Public Library.
The other track will provide more in-depth training and opportunities to practice in the real world with professional colleagues in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Public Library serves the largest population of any library system in America, more than 3.9 million people, through a Central Library and 72 branches. The librarians trained at Harwood and the initial team of Tyler, Grover, and Ildefonso will train staff on how to use community engagement tools during actual community conversations. The Los Angeles County Library is committed to making its services accessible to everyone in its service area. Through its partnership with Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC), it has been able to create new ways to deepen its connection with local communities and help people address issues that are important to them. By providing training for staff at all levels of the system and engaging with different age groups in conversations about creating safer and more accessible public spaces, it is helping to create a model that can be replicated throughout its system.