Lead The Way Symposium: Refreshing Library Community Engagement 2021

Mark Your Calendar!

Oct 1, 2021  |   Virtual One-Day Symposium

As communities adjust to post-pandemic life, libraries have a unique opportunity to reimagine services, priorities, and relationships. How is your library optimizing this time? The iSchool at UW-Madison, in partnership with the WI Department of Public Instruction, seeks to help the library community share ideas and practices around reestablishing community engagement efforts in a post-pandemic world by hosting a virtual one-day community engagement symposium. This event will build on the success of the November 2020 Lead the Way conference .

Questions? Contact Meredith Lowe, mclowe@wisc.edu

9:00 - 9:45 CST: Coffee And Conversation

Meet your fellow attendees in small groups, and chat about your goals for the day! This is a casual conversation time with optional prompts, bring your favorite morning beverage.

10-11:00 CST: Learn To Lead Conversations: Facilitation Basics From ALA

Samantha Oakley Headshot
Samantha Oakley
Sarah Ostman Headshot
Sarah Ostman

Libraries are uniquely positioned to be leaders and change agents in their communities, but where should you begin? Join the American Library Association for an overview of the free community engagement resources, tools, and professional development offerings available through Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) to help you get started.

LTC is an initiative of the American Library Association that seeks to strengthen libraries’ role as core community leaders and change-agents. The initiative helps libraries become more reflective of and connected to their communities and achieve a domino effect of positive results, including stronger relationships with local civic agencies, non-profits, funders and corporations, and greater community investment in civility, collaboration, education, health and well-being.


Samantha Oakley is a program manager with the American Library Association’s Public Programs Office and project director of Libraries Transforming Communities. She has a BA in English from Western Illinois University, an MA in Gender Studies from the Minnesota State University – Mankato, and is currently working on getting her MLIS from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Sarah Ostman is a deputy director with the American Library Association’s Public Programs Office. She has an MA in journalism from Columbia College Chicago and a BA in sociology and theatre from Smith College.

11:00 – 11:30: Break

11:30-12:30 CST: Using Data In Community Engagement

Kim Kiesewetter Headshott
Kim Kiesewetter

In this session, we will discuss how to use existing data sources that exist for libraries to support them in community engagement efforts. We will first identify some existing resources for libraries before digging into tips, tricks, and best practices for how to use them to inform decision-making and planning.


Kim Kiesewetter, Data Analyst, works on a variety of library-centric, data-driven projects with the Wisconsin-based WiLS consulting team. She brings with her over a decade of research and evaluation experience. Her background in the social sciences provides a foundation for her work, including extensive training in evaluation, research methods, and statistical analysis.

12:30 – 1:30: Break

1:30-2:30 CST: Focused Engagement For Intentional Impact: A Practical Approach To Cultivating Community Connections

Amanda Standerfer Headshot
Amanda Standerfer
Alissa Williams Headshot

Want to connect with non-users and underserved groups in your community? Using a community engagement framework will focus your efforts, especially when you consider the intended impact first. Come learn how to use an impact-focused community engagement model at your library and how one library used the model to create a plan to increase summer reading participation. We’ll discuss the role of incentives and developmental evaluation in moving people up the engagement scale to become strong advocates for the library.
Learning objectives:
Participants will:

  • Learn how to use an intended impact framework to design community engagement
  • Learn the elements of a simple engagement plan
  • Understand how to use developmental evaluation to review and refine engagement plans
  • Learn the importance of incentives in moving people up the engagement ladder

Amanda Standerfer is passionate about helping libraries advance so they can create meaningful impact in their communities. Since 2002, Amanda has served as a consultant and facilitator, working with libraries on strategic planning, fundraising, organizational development, and capacity building. Amanda is also currently the Director of Development & Promotion for The Urbana (IL) Free Library. She has a B.A. and M.A. in history from Eastern Illinois University and a M.S. in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Alissa Williams is passionate about library marketing and readers advisory services. Since 2015, Alissa has been the director of the Morton Public Library District where she has led a renovation project, developed a strategic plan and an engagement plan and increased outreach efforts. She has a B.A. in Public Relations from Bradley University and a M.S. in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

2:30 – 2:45: Break

2:45-3:30 CST: Closing Keynote Address

Lisa Leuck Headshot
Lisa Leuck

Choosing Your Own Adventure in Community Engagement: Getting from Goals to Gains

Pivot. New Normal. Quarantine Hustle. Now More Than Ever. Do those phrases make you want to say, “Give me a break?”  We’re all extremely tired of navigating the pandemic and want to throw in the creative towel sometimes. But finding a way to serve your patrons, your community, and yourself is possible. It’s about finding an adventure that YOU care about. Library workers usually care about what their communities care about, and our goals are easier to achieve when we have the internal motivation to achieve them.

Lisa Leuck has created growth despite limitations for 15 years in a small, isolated town that is committed to doing great things despite its size. As a director and one-person librarian in Elgin, IA during the pandemic, she knows the challenges and joys of working alone in all departments of the library and fitting it all into a 26-hour week. She feels that by thinking outside the box, incorporating good leadership, and innovating new programs, even small libraries can be the center of their communities and be drivers of change. Lisa is a certified English teacher and tutor, and a John C. Maxwell certified speaker, leadership trainer, and coach. This experience led her to found her own leadership and education business called Read to Lead LLC where she specializes in helping people of all ages and in all walks of life find the leaders inside them. She is also co-founder of the IDEA Exchange group where women entrepreneurs are welcomed to share ideas and work together. She is a member of the first Libraries Transforming Communities cohort and a judge for the Midwest Book Awards. Most of all, Lisa is passionate about how reading can teach anything. She loves spreading the word about small and rural libraries and the difference that all libraries can make to their patrons and the world.

3:45 - 4:30 CST Afternoon Conversation

Get together with your colleagues in small groups to discuss what you learned in sessions today, and chat about the goals you are inspired to set! Bring a snack or beverage.