Champions' Showcase: Ideas We Should Steal
Sunday, July 25, 2021
by: Mary Luz Marques

Section: News Articles

Spring/Summer 2021

Mary Marques works as bilingual Library Coordinator at the Free Library of Philadelphia. She's the REFORMA Awards Committee Chair. Mary served as REFORMA Northeast (RNE) President for 2015-2016; currently, she supports RNE as the Chair of the Leadership Institute. Mary holds a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from Clarion University (USA), and a second Master’s Degree in Bilingual/Bicultural Studies from La Salle University (USA), and a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Science, Journalism, from Inca Garcilaso de la Vega University (Peru).

The Reforma Northeast (RNE) Leadership Institute has presented the second webinar in the series entitled Champions’ Showcase: Ideas We Should Steal!! The goal of this online presentation was to share ideas and skills related to virtual programming. 

Representing the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP), Andrea Lemoins (Community Organizer) and Echo Phillips (Children’s Librarian) presented From “Community-Centered Libraries” to “Catalyzing a Community-Led Future”: Living Trainings and Tools that Strengthen Library and Community Bonds. In this webinar, they spoke about the importance of “community-led asset mapping” as a “living tool” to engage with members of the community and to understand the local culture in the neighborhood more deeply.

During the presentation, Phillips provided an overview of the Free Library. She mentioned that the organization consists of 53 agencies covering 142 square miles with a rough annual budget of 48 million dollars. Also, the librarian added that 25.9 percent of the population in Philadelphia is living below the poverty level. On the other hand, Lemoins indicated that the Free Library got a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support community-led initiatives in the libraries. She added that the Community Centered Laura Bush 21st Century Library Training focuses on building capacity in teamwork, in addition to developing strategies for effective communication, program development, and community engagement.

In the “Lightning Talk” section, Raynelda Calderon, Librarian at Queens Public Library, presented Virtual programs: Grab & Go Crafts. Calderon provided easy ideas that can be replicated by library staff during this pandemic time. For family virtual programs, the librarian recommended using the same link, day, and time for consistency. This marketing strategy allows the parents to keep the same schedule. Also, understanding the personal and community challenges are important factors when developing virtual programs.

Calderon commented that during the pandemic time, the in-person programs were cancelled and the “Grab & Go Crafts” programs were an alternative way to connect with the community.

The final presentation, Social Change Book Club: Creating a Responsible Space to Discuss Community Issues, touched on the “non-traditional” book club called “R.A.D.A.: Read. Awareness. Dialogue. Action.”

The presenters from Denver Public Library, Jim Ramsey, Hadiya Evans, and Mónica Lozano, use R.A.D.A. as a vehicle to discuss community issues and their possible solutions in a safe space. Its mission is “reading for social consciousness, to exchange ideas and promote discussion through books and community sharing.” The R.A.D.A. title list and additional resources can be found in the RNE Leadership website.

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