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Tue 26

April 26, 2022 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT

Promising Practices Webinar: Elevating Libraries as Civic Spaces

National Civic League

Libraries are far more than repositories for books, often serving as hubs for community life and civic engagement. As one of the last remaining accessible public spaces, libraries serve as centers of education and literacy, academic and professional development, engagement and dialogue. During this webinar, attendees will learn about the American Library Association’s initiative, “Libraries Transforming Communities,” which has provided libraries opportunities to learn the skills of facilitating community conversations with help from the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation. We will then hear how two libraries are engaging their communities and centering public discourse.

Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) — an initiative of the American Library Association — seeks to strengthen libraries’ role as core community leaders and change-agents. The initiative addresses a critical need within the library field by developing and distributing new tools, resources and support for librarians to engage with their communities in new ways.

North Liberty Library in Iowa – Lighthouse in the Library is a conversation series giving North Liberty residents an opportunity to speak on important community issues in a town-hall style setting.


Courtney Breese, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD)

As the executive director of NCDD, Breese leads a network of 700 individuals and organizations who bring people together across divides to discuss, decide, and take action together effectively on today’s toughest issues. She directs ongoing programs including NCDD’s work with the ALA.

Breese is also an experienced mediation and public engagement practitioner. She has a passion for helping people make connections, communicate more effectively, and make decisions collaboratively. She enjoys examining systems and structures and working to improve society on a macro level.

Kellee Forkenbrock, Public Services Librarian, North Liberty Library

After two decades of work in the private sector, Kellee Forkenbrock joined North Liberty Library in June 2019 as a library assistant. She was promoted to her current role as Public Services Librarian in October of the same year, serving as the community engagement liaison for the library and assisting with the management of the library’s part-time staff.

Kellee holds a Bachelor’s in Marketing and is pursuing a Masters in LIS from the University of Iowa. Her professional background includes a decade of project management with a skills assessment firm and seven years in multimedia advertising for a Gannett newspaper. Kellee is active in her community as a board member, having served for the Iowa City Public Library and Girls on the Run of Eastern Iowa. Read more about Kellee on her LinkedIn profile.

Samantha Oakley, Project Director, American Library Association

Samantha Oakley is an experienced project director with a demonstrated history of working in the library field. She is a project director with the American Library Association’s Public Programs Office; in this position she directs the following efforts: Libraries Transforming Communities, Let’s Talk About It: Women’s Suffrage, Media Literacy Education in Libraries for Adult Audiences, Community Connect, ALA PPO’s annual grant opportunities, online learning, evaluation, and partnership inquiries.

She has a BA in English from Western Illinois University, an MA in Gender Studies from Minnesota State University – Mankato, and a Master of Library & Information Science (MLIS) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.