Engaged, Embedded, and Enriched Creative Community Connections


As libraries seek to redefine themselves in a new information age, libraries must develop strategies for engaging with the community. Traditional programs and services are no longer sufficient; libraries must be creative in building community relationships to help frame positive community growth. Learn how three diverse library systems met the challenge of engaging with their communities to create dynamic connections and develop meaningful partnerships that added value to the library AND the community.


  • Community Engagement: For us this means being making connections and forming partnerships with organizations in our communities. In many cases the partnerships are strategic and mutually beneficial to both organizations.  When the library partners with key organizations in the community… incredible things can happen. Also, we consider community engagement as the umbrella term that the following two definitions fall under.
  • Community Reference: This is a term that the former director of Douglas County Libraries, Jamie LaRue, used to describe the kind of work that librarians can accomplish when they are embedded with community groups. In this situation the library can add significant value to solving of a community problem, project or question thereby raising the value of professional library staff in the community.
  • Embedded Librarian: Embedded librarianship is not a new concept to academic libraries yet it is relatively new for public libraries. For the purpose of our discussion today, embedded librarians are actively connected with a community group or organization. They attend meetings and events hosted by the organization, share library programs/services of interest to the group and may take on a leadership role within the group.



About your presenters


Colbe Galston, Business Librarian, Douglas County Libraries

As Business Librarian for Douglas County Libraries, Colbe Galston supports small business owners and entrepreneurs searching for quality business information with custom research, knowledge of business data sources and experience training clients on using library resources. Galston has presented and published on serving small businesses and community organizations for American Libraries, Marketing Library Services, WebJunction, Leadership Douglas County, and the Arizona State Library. She likes books about fabulous food and dangerous men.

Barb White, General Manager, Branch Libraries, Akron Summit-County Public Library

Barb White, General Manager of Branch Libraries, joined the Akron-Summit County Public Library in 1991, and has worked at both the Main and branch libraries in various roles—teen librarian, audiovisual and adult services librarian, early childhood librarian, and branch manager. Barb has presented at local, national, and international workshops and conferences on a variety of topics including Community Engagement, Collaboration, and Social Justice; Shared Inquiry and Inquiry –Based Learning; Professional Development and the Study Group Process; Emergent and Family Literacy; and Reggio-Inspired Early Childhood Education and Library Practice. She is co-editor of The Power of We: The Ohio Study Group Experience (Information Age, 2010), and has authored or co-authored articles for professional publications including the International Journal of Learning, Child’s Play, and the Journal of Youth Services.

Kari May, Director, Elbert County Library District

In addition to being the Director of Elbert County Library District Kari is also current President of the Colorado Association of Libraries. She has worked in libraries since 1996. One of her passions as a librarian is connecting people to the information they need, regardless of where the information can be found. That is why she stays  engaged in her community, both to find the resources, and to make sure the library stays relevant to her community’s needs.