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Learning Our ABCD’s at IMLS Workshop in Chicago

In October 2017, IVMF was awarded a grant from the Institute for Museum and Libraries Sciences (IMLS) through its Community Catalyst grant initiative. The goal of this grant is to scale the Institute’s AmericaServes community impact model into the western region of North Carolina and encourage libraries to play a more central role in helping military-connected individuals navigate benefits and services provided for them in civilian life. The Community Catalyst grant initiative seeks to explore the readiness of libraries, archives, museums, and other community organizations to develop models for co-creating, deepening, and sustaining broad-based efforts to engage and serve a local community. With this project, IVMF will engage and encourage libraries to play a more central role in the expansion of NCServes-Western in and around the city of Asheville, NC, where libraries can serve both as “learning hubs” and “service providers.” The project will work to centralize community development and service coordination in the community’s libraries and to develop the library as a central focal point for community relations and discussions, as well as for learning.

As part of the IMLS grant, three AmericaServes teammates – Lisa Murray, Program Manager, Community Services; Lyndsey Hodkinson, Program Manager, Community of Practice; and Gilly Cantor, Program Evaluation Manager – had the opportunity to attend a workshop focused on Asset-Based Community Development and Developmental Evaluation at DePaul University in Chicago.

Lisa and Gilly

This photo shows Gilly and Lisa with their game faces on, sleeves rolled up, and ready to build a community asset map. Asset mapping allows us to identify what community resources already exist – including physical, cultural, and individual, as well as community-based associations and strengths in the local economy. Once an asset map is complete, it provides a comprehensive picture of the community and what it already has to offer the people it serves. This exercise reminded me of the strategy session phases of building an AmericaServes network, where AmericaServes team members work alongside local partners to identify the key resources, services and care in that particular community. This process is essential—all of our communities have the existing foundation to serve veterans, service members and their families, and we help communities to leverage their resources through a coordinated approach to service delivery.

The IMLS workshop was a great opportunity to meet the other very diverse Community Catalyst grantees from across the nation and to connect on similar efforts to improve the health and well-being of people in communities through the support of local libraries. It is exciting to be a part of a shift in how libraries are integrated into communities across the country—a shift from being an anchor in the community to become the community catalyst.

By Lyndsey Hodkinson, Program Manager, Community of Practice

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