Looking to help train library practitioners and organizations in techniques for community collaboration and civic engagement along with professional soft skills not typically addressed in Library and Information Science curriculum, Dr. April Dawkins in UNC Greensboro’s Department of Information, Library, and Research Sciences and Dr. Lucy Santos Green of the University of Iowa have been awarded a nearly $250,000 grant for a two-year project.
The grant was awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. READCON: A Curriculum for Library Readiness, Advocacy, and Community Empowerment During Challenging Conditions partners experts in academic, public, and school librarianship with experts in education and family law; crisis communication, public, and media relations; community reconciliation; and youth leadership to develop a targeted suite of blended professional development experiences.
The project will also utilize an expanded version of the Get Ready Stay Ready Community Action Toolkit, which is an accessible and multilingual curated resource collection. Designed for parents and caregivers, the toolkit provides resources to take action to protect the right to read and access to information.
Work will be done to equip library workers with skills to develop relationships with community groups. Dawkins said, “Specific skills we hope to address include fostering constructive dialogue, de-escalation of tense situations, engaging with stakeholders and community leaders, and developing positive messaging and communication in times of crisis.”
Over 2023-2024, the READCON curriculum will be developed and expanded. In the summer and fall of 2024, the team will begin beta testing with recruited institutions and individuals. The team has selected institutions to participate but will recruit individuals at the American Library Association LibLearnX and Annual Conference. The team’s goal is to begin disseminating the program to a wider audience in 2025.