Libraries build digital communities

Today I'm co-facilitating an ALA session titled, "Libraries Lead Community Digital Inclusion." Along with my colleagues from WebJunction, ICMA, and IMLS, we'll be guiding librarians through activities that utilize IMLS' recently published Building Digital Communities framework. I'll be talking about gathering stakeholders and leaders for digital inclusion work. Here's what I plan to share.

You may already know the usual suspects--the government leaders, the community-based organizations, the business leaders--the stakeholders who are doing digital inclusion work who need to be aware of your library's efforts. These are important people to keep close and engage with as you develop your action plan for community digital inclusion projects. Be sure to put them at your table (that you lead). But you're not done yet. Read on...

Think broadly

Now take one step out of your inner circle. Do you see anyone in this orbit? Step out of your comfort zone and consider the people you don't know. Here's one way to think about extending your networks. In Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point," he talks about three personality types: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. Let's figure out how to find these people and invite them to your table.

Connectors: these folks love people. They know a lot of people, enjoy being around people, and are particularly skilled at sharing their people. They are talented networkers. If you know connectors, include them in your leader/stakeholder list. Think about what they bring, even if you don't know where their connections might lead, and record this information.

Mavens: these folks are information experts. (Did I hear someone say, "librarian?") Yes, they are librarians, and they are smart folks with insider scoops. They are educators, not sellers. If you know mavens, think about what they might bring, and include them in your list.

Salesmen: these folks are usually larger than life, who bask in the glory of being the center of attention. They are charismatic. Importantly, they build rapport and trust with those around them. They are good figureheads. Think about how the salespeople in your life might influence your digital inclusion work.

Give yourself permission to edit

Take these three archetypes and think broadly about your community. Are there residents in your community who fits these roles? Library patrons? While you should think specifically about the names of folks or organizations, try not to get too focused on how everyone fits into your plan. Don't edit your list, just free associate and write. Now is the time to fill your stakeholder/leader list with folks you think might help you lead digital inclusion work in your community. Reassess your list tomorrow or in a few days and then begin to categorize and prioritize your leader list so you can begin crafting and executing your action plan.


Use the materials from our ALA session to craft your leader list and jumpstart community digital inclusion projects. And keep an eye on this blog and on WebJunction to find new resources and tools as this project progresses.