Equity in Library Programming and Services

A guest post by Emily Weak, Linda Steward and Monica Chapa Domercq, Equity Advisors

What we’ve learned so far: Common Issues Bringing Equity into the Practice of Library Programming and Services:

Under the statewide Networking California Resources, the California State Library, along with the Pacific Library Partnership (PLP), formed a small team of three equity advisors in late summer of 2023. This team was formed in response to the goals of the California State Library’s 2023-2027 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Investment Plan, in order to provide assistance to library staff working on LSTA funded grants. The team is Linda Stewart, Monica Chapa Domercq, and Emily Weak. So far, the Equity Advisor team has worked with 23 libraries, co-designing a framework to help grantees keep equity considerations at the forefront of their work. Advisors facilitate reflection, act as a second pair of eyes to find barriers to community participation, and provide additional resources such connections with other library staff, articles, books, and training.

While many libraries have already had at least an introduction to equity principles, moving this theory into practice is a fundamental step that benefits from reflection and support. There are a few themes which we, the Equity Advisor team, have already recognized as recurring. In this post, we will share a few resources to address common issues bringing equity into the practice of library programming and services.

Linda: It has been an exciting eight months working with grantees as they seek to address the information needs of underserved populations within their communities.  What I personally have found most interesting is the variety of these projects—teen leadership, enhanced services for seniors and especially those with cognitive issues, a memory lab that is being developed to provide the tools for Filipino as well as LGBTQ community members to document their respective histories, and the list goes on… What these programs share is a growing understanding that strategies like co-design and addressing social justice require patience and time, likely more than expected.  It is because of this that as advisors we would encourage you to embrace the small steps; forward movement toward diversity, equity and inclusion is the goal.   

For those libraries that are adding materials to your collections, an issue that many libraries are encountering today is how to ensure that we create records that are culturally sensitive.  While there has been much written about this issue, I’d like to suggest checking out the new series of web-based training courses being offered through the Digital Public Library of America.  Titled “Practical Approaches to Reparative Description” the series was designed for those engaged in remediating potentially outdated or harmful language used in the past.  However, many recommendations are applicable to the creation of new records as well. 

While the series began on April 18 with “Representations of Gender and Sexuality in Metadata,” these are being recorded.

Monica: I have been personally fulfilled by working as an Equity Advisor with several libraries whose grant projects have equity and inclusion as their focus. These libraries are working to initiate or deepen relationships and programming with underserved and marginalized populations such as the Mixtecos (indigenous people from Mexico with a non-written dialect), children and teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Farsi, Punjabi, and Spanish speaking community members, communities that are geographically isolated, and people who are housing insecure. These projects affirm that for California libraries, serving the whole community is non-negotiable. To learn more about how it is the responsibility of government to make sure that “all who live in a library’s jurisdiction” benefit from its services, reference the training “Advancing Racial Equity in Your Library” by Race Forward and the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE). You can find this and other great resources on the California State Library’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion resource page. 

One of the common issues with bringing equity into the practice of library programming is in establishing relationships with communities that may be distrustful of government organizations or may not have any expectations or reference about the services a California public library provides (or both). While many librarians intuitively know what good community engagement entails, I’ve found that the Building Authentic Relationships with Underserved Communities training (available as an archived webinar), delivered by Dr. Audrey Barbakoff, Amita Lonial and Mia Henry, lays the foundation for taking intentional steps to building or rebuilding trust with the community.

The training describes how Asset Based Community Development can be a pathway to co-creation. Its engagement strategies entail sharing power, asking for input, and favoring collaboration and empowerment over informing. Barbakoff has also authored a helpful article about the principles and application of Asset Based Community Development (free on Webjunction), if you are interested in learning more.

These projects are commitments to the populations with which they are engaging. As Linda said, these projects will require time! We encourage library staff to realize it’s okay to be flexible, to change courses in response to what works and what doesn’t, to give yourselves grace, and to practice self-care! 

Emily: As Linda and Monica have mentioned, the most common issue I have seen in my eight months as an Equity Advisor is lack of time. Equity work is built on relationships and reflection, and both of those take time. They are also often not easily measurable, and they don’t necessarily provide clear and abundant outputs that you can hold up to people like your boss, your city council, and your grant funders.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this issue. It is systemic in public libraries. We are service professionals, and we are used to being asked to do more with less (by the way, if you have never read Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves  by Fobazi Ettarh, you should do so ASAP).  Sometimes taking the time for equity work, including the time for your own professional development, means clearly articulating and grounding a commitment to equity work as valuable in principle, rather than in output. And sometimes it means letting other projects go. Both can be difficult, especially working in a publicly funded institution with many stakeholders.

I have been reading about the principles of Slow Librarianship and thinking about how this might hold some keys to shifting our practices. You might find this post by Meredith Farkas interesting: What is Slow Librarianship? 

I’ve also just finished reading Emergent Strategy, Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown. In it she says, “I love the idea of shifting from ‘mile wide inch deep’ movements to ‘inch wide mile deep’ movements that schism the existing paradigm.” We are working towards change, and this change deserves your time and your attention. The path towards “enough time” or even “an abundance of time” will be different for each person. But it’s time to get on the path.


Self-Care and Career Development

The term self-care is thrown around a lot, but nailing down what it means can be complicated. In my mind there’s personal self-care and professional self-care. They both help recharge your battery, but for me personal self-care is something like taking a much-needed nap, visiting friends, or just making time for a hobby. Professional self-care, on the other hand, makes me think of professional development or training. These are the types of things that give me the tools to be more successful in my career, which build my confidence in handling tough situations, and help me find happiness and satisfaction in my work.

On Tuesday, February 20th at 10:00 am CALL will be hosting a webinar called, Career Development in Libraries: Supercharging Your Library Career, presented by Sonia Alcántara-Antoine, PLA President. This is a wonderful professional self-care opportunity. Sonia will be speaking about how to actively develop your career and position yourself for success and growth. She will also talk about finding mentors and how to network.

So if you’ve been feeling stuck in your career, curious about moving into other positions within the library, or looking for a way to connect with others in the field be sure to register for this webinar. Come ready to learn from Sonia, an incredible library leader, and join what’s sure to be a lively and fun discussion.

See you there!


TeachingBooks for California Public Library Staff

A guest post by Robyn McCreight, California State Library

TeachingBooks for Libraries is a collection of digital resources created and curated for the purpose of engaging children and teens with the books they are reading. Your access is directed by the California State Library’s COMPASS program and provided with ongoing state education funds, so there’s no expected end date for the program and local library access to TeachingBooks for Libraries.

The following 30-minute webinars will be held live online for registered participants. All registrants will receive a recording to watch at their convenience. Please contact Deborah Salyer,, for more information. Please contact if you need assistance with registration.

2024 Webinar Series

January | Prepare for Summer Reading with TeachingBooks

Find new inspiration and discover how your state-funded access to TeachingBooks resources can be easily integrated into your summer reading program. Locate lists of themed summer reading titles, whether you’re using CSLP or iRead. Designing your own program? Use TeachingBooks to create unique lists and discover how to find, share, and incorporate Meet-the-Author recordings, book trailers, and activity kits to enrich the summer reading experience.

Funding provided by the State of California for education at the direction of the California State Library.

When: January 18, 2024, at 2:00 PM Pacific
Audience: Public Library Staff
View Recording in CALL Academy

February | TeachingBooks 101 – Search, Save, and Share

Engage your readers, create lists for your programming, and promote literacy with your children and teens, parents, and community with resources from TeachingBooks. From titles you always use in your book clubs and programming to hot-off-the-press releases, there’s always something new at TeachingBooks, your state-funded library of digital literacy resources. 

Funding provided by the State of California for education at the direction of the California State Library.

  • When: February 14, 2024, at 11:00 AM Pacific
  • Audience: Public Library Staff
  • View Recording in CALL Academy

March | Enrich Your Programming with Resources that Engage your Children and Teens 

TeachingBooks resources can help make program planning quick and easy with materials to support storytimes, book clubs, and more. Explore the wide array of book guides, activity kits, and digital resources that will empower readers both at the library and at home. Find new program inspiration and incorporate ready-to-use materials into existing programs for children and teens.

Funding provided by the State of California for education at the direction of the California State Library.

  • When: March 28, 2024, at 2:00 PM Pacific
  • Audience: Public Library Staff
  • View Recording in CALL Academy

April | Big Impact, Small Changes: Analyzing Featured Titles with TeachingBooks

Gain insight into the titles you choose for displays, programming, and even collection development. Join the TeachingBooks Team to learn how the Collection Analysis Toolkit can assist when examining your children’s and young adult titles for genre, recency, and cultural classifications. Reflect together on your book promotion goals and the next steps to reach them. This session will show you the overview of the Collection Analysis Toolkit at TeachingBooks—far beyond reading levels and publication dates.

Funding provided by the State of California for education at the direction of the California State Library.

  • When: April 17, 2024, at 11:00 AM Pacific
  • Audience: Public Library Staff
  • View Recording in CALL Academy

May | Support Your Community with TeachingBooks Resources

Outreach to your community has never been easier with TeachingBooks tools for engagement. Discover how to share booklists and create printables for engaging children and teens with your books on display, on book mobiles, and in your programming. Looking for ways to support your public and home schoolers? This session is also for you! 

Funding provided by the State of California for education at the direction of the California State Library.

  • When: May 16, 2024, at 2:00 PM Pacific
  • Audience: Public Library Staff
  • View Recording in CALL Academy

Understanding Co-Design and Community Partnerships

Public libraries ideally work collaboratively to meet local needs and aspirations. Working WITH communities, instead of simply FOR them, can transform libraries and the communities they serve. That’s why the California State Library’s LSTA plan calls for co-design and community engagement. Whether or not you’re thinking of applying for a 2024-2025 LSTA grant, we highly encourage you to investigate what’s on CALL that will support your efforts. All trainings are available to California library workers free of charge through California Libraries Learn.

Connectors, Partners and Community Support: Preparing for LSTA Funding, a new one-hour CALL exclusive webinar on Thursday, February 8, at 10 a.m., will help you understand more about this community work. Instructor Cathay Reta will provide: 1) guidance to identify CALL courses to help you develop community connectors and partners, 2) direct instruction on addressing these connections for your grant proposal, and 3) a little inspiration on why it matters. CALL Academy offers a wealth of recorded information, including the courses The Partnership Project and Community-Centered Libraries, both of which provide great supporting materials along with recordings.

Interested in learning more about expanding your connections and developing co-design practices? Attend a webinar on Building Authentic Relationships with Underserved Communities, on Tuesday, January 30, at 11 a.m. A follow-up webinar from the same team, Co-Creating Library Services for Transformative Impact, takes place on Tuesday, February 27, at noon.

There’s more on co-design available now and starting soon. Get a jumpstart with this view-anytime CALL Academy recordings on Exploring Co-Design and Co-Design in Action from the Library Collective, which will also present a second live discussion on Exploring Co-Design just for California libraries on February 15 at 10 a.m. Library Journal offers a three-session course on How to Collaborate with Your Community to Co-Design Programs and Services, starting February 21.

Plus, don’t forget about the great webinars offered in January and February to help you put together a winning grant proposal. Check out the CALL blog post Getting Ready for Grant Season to learn more! If you’re interested in learning about data about your community, you might be interested in webinars and PolicyMap training from the Community-Centered Libraries series.


Unlocking Grant Success: California Rural and Small Libraries Webinar Series

A guest post by Stephanie Gerding

I’m thrilled to invite you to a unique opportunity. In this curated set of webinars, I’m excited to share my insights into library grant work aimed at empowering and guiding California’s rural and small libraries towards grant success. As a dedicated library grant writer, educator, and author, I’ve had the privilege of wearing multiple hats in the grant world – as an applicant, a funder, a project manager, an evaluator, and a consultant. I’ve even had the honor of reviewing grants for nonprofits and LSTA grants for state libraries.

Join Our Webinar Series for Grant Success

These webinars are designed to simplify the grant process and equip you with the tools and confidence needed for successful library grant funding. Grants offer more than just financial support; they foster valuable partnerships, address community needs, and garner increased community support.

Webinar Descriptions:

  1. Empowering Rural and Small Libraries: 10 Tips for Successful Library Grants
    Wednesday, January 10 | 10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. | 30-minute webinar
    Applying for grants doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Join me in this engaging session offering valuable insights and practical strategies for success in grant work. Let’s demystify the grant process and inspire you to approach grant work with enthusiasm and confidence.
  2. Rural and Small Library Grant Planning and Design
    Thursday, January 18 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. | One-hour webinar
    Gain an understanding of crucial factors in library grant work and be ready to initiate successful proposals. I’ll introduce you to the Winning Grants Planning Tool, a useful worksheet to aid you in designing a grant project and identifying necessary elements for a compelling proposal.
  3. Creating the Winning LSTA Grant Proposal for Rural and Small Libraries
    Thursday, February 1 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. | 90-minute webinar
    Discover what LSTA grant reviewers are looking for and gain the skills to bring clarity and professionalism to your grant proposals. This session includes a Q & A segment and a CA LSTA Grant Worksheet, invaluable for successful applications. Don’t miss this opportunity to interact, learn, and elevate your grant writing expertise.

I find grant work really exciting and interesting and I can’t wait to share my enthusiasm and knowledge with you. I hope you will join us in this webinar series.

See you online!


Culturally Relevant Evaluation Cohort

Calling all library workers! Are you someone who:

  • Creates, implements, and/or evaluates your library’s public programming?
  • Works in outreach and/or community engagement?

This winter and spring, you have the opportunity to participate in a learning cohort of your peers from across the state. At no cost to you, you will learn how to engage members of your community in the creation and evaluation of your library’s programs and services. The Culturally Relevant Evaluation cohort will be led by Dr. Andrea Girón Mathern, the founder of Centrality Research.

By participating, you will:

  • gain knowledge and tools to conduct participatory evaluation – a process that engages community members in the design and evaluation of programs and services
  • develop skills in both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods that center the community
  • expand your awareness of approaches that are culturally responsive and relevant when gathering feedback from community members
  • connect with public library workers around the state engaged in similar work

To be considered for the cohort, please submit an application by Friday, December 1, 2023. To learn more about this opportunity and to apply, please visit the Culturally Relevant Evaluation webpage.

Community-Centered Libraries: Harnessing the Power of Data to Equitably Serve Your Community is brought to you by the California State Library and Pacific Library Partnership. Please contact Linda Hofschire (, the Community-Centered Libraries Project Manager, if you have any questions about the Community-Centered Libraries training opportunities.


Catalyst Cohort Participants 2023

The California State Library and California Library Association are pleased to announce the first cohort of participants in the Catalyst leadership development program. Catalyst is a cohort-based program under the banner of California Libraries Learn (CALL) designed to equip and support California library workers with development opportunities that allow them to lead from anywhere. To ensure a comprehensive and fair selection process, a team of 12 library workers evaluated over 100 applications in a blind review during the initial round. Their aim was to identify a robust cohort that encompasses individuals with diverse perspectives, strengths, and unique lived experiences, all of which contribute to the enriching work carried out in libraries.

Following a thorough evaluation, the final group of 25 individuals was chosen from the pool of top-scoring candidates. Consideration was given to fostering diversity in terms of library types and representation across various regions of California.

The Catalyst cohort participants for this year are:

Name: Joe Ayala
Library: Sonoma County Library

Joe is a literacy associate at the Sonoma County Library system and enjoys reading, walking, sewing, and spending time with his cats. 

Name: Cloud Bell
Library: San Mateo County Libraries

Cloud is currently a Community Program Specialist with San Mateo County Libraries where she enjoys providing systemwide innovative programs and fostering strong community connections. She loves hiking and the outdoors and playing competitive Netball. 

Name: Ruby Buentello
Library: Yolo County Library

Ruby works for Yolo County Library as an Outreach & Programming Librarian. She is a dedicated individual who prioritizes making impactful services available to her community. 

Name: Eric Castro
Library: Carpinteria Community Library

Eric Castro, an immigrant to the US, is an outreach librarian at the Carpinteria Community Library with over 25 years of experience working in different types of libraries with an emphasis on public libraries.

Name: Kyla Carroll
Library: Sacramento Public Library

Kyla has been with Sacramento Public library for about five years, transitioning through the phases of the pandemic in several different branches and is currently extensively involved in DEIAB work through a leadership position on the Equity committee, with a focus on facilitating conversations and tangible changes to volunteer processes. Through Catalyst, she hopes to learn critical skills for tough conversations and how to promote more effective communication to unite front-facing staff with library administration, bringing understanding and inclusion to all levels.

Name: Rosa Cesaretti
Library: Pasadena Public Library

Rosa Cesaretti, who was born in Mexico City, has been a librarian in Pasadena for 10 years, developing equity-based programs that enrich the diverse community. Ms. Cesaretti believes that public libraries are an essential resource where minds are encouraged to grow free of judgment or restraint.

Name: Danielle Davis
Library: Grossmont College Library

Danielle Davis has worked for over five years as a technician within a Marine Corps library system and now works as the lead technical services technician at the Grossmont College Library in southern California. She is very passionate about advocating for the needs of overlooked populations and believes libraries are perfectly situated to take the pulse of local communities while prioritizing DEIA, social justice, and a culture of care.

Name: Gabriella Dixon
Library: Santa Maria Public Library

Gabriella Dixon is a Teen Librarian at the Santa Maria Public Library; she is passionate about creating and fostering long-lasting connections with youth and their families through library services. Gabriella holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from San Jose State University, is a recent MLIS graduate from Valdosta State University, and has her childhood library card framed at her desk.

Name: Glenda Gamboa
Library: Los Angeles County Library

Glenda Gamboa has been with LA County Library since 2012. Currently the supervising Adult Services Librarian at West Hollywood Library, she has a track record of implementing programs that promote inclusion and diversity, most notably launching their Drag Story Hour as part of her previous position as the Children’s Services Librarian.

Name: Elizabeth (Liz) Garcia
Library: San Mateo County Libraries

Liz currently works as an Adult Services and Makerspace Librarian for the San Mateo County Libraries where she focuses on creating and supporting services that expand access to information to all. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and all things pop culture.

Name: Dorothy Gruett
Library: San Luis Obispo County

Dorothy Gruett is the Senior Library Associate and staff manager for the downtown branch of County of SLO Public Libraries and the Committee Head for the Library Green Team. She has a passion for bringing sustainability to libraries, loves to hike the beautiful beach and mountain areas of the Central Coast and has a super cute and feisty terrier that she spoils rotten.

Name: Yvette Herrera
Library: Madera County Library

Yvette Herrera Children’s Librarian at the Madera County Library, she is very passionate about working with the children and the community.

Name: Rene Hohls
Library: Fort Bragg Unified School – Districtwide

Name: Erik Jones
Library: Santa Ana Public Library

Erik is a Bookmobile Librarian at the Santa Ana Public Library. Erik is passionate about giving back to his community and to the institutions that helped him get to this stage of his career

Name: Kari Leos
Library: Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library, Troke Branch Library

Kari is a Librarian Trainee at Troke Branch Library, part of Stockton-San Joaquin County Public LIbrary system and is halfway through getting her Master’s in Library Science. 

Name: Isariya Locke
Library: Fresno County Library

Isariya Locke is a Children’s Librarian originally from Bangkok, Thailand. She earned her Master of Library Science degree from Texas Woman’s University. Isariya is deeply passionate about creating inclusive programs that reflect the diversity of her community.

Name: Heidi Mark
Library: Los Angeles Public Library, Sylmar Branch

After working in a school library for more than a decade Heidi is now an adult librarian at the Sylmar branch of the Los Angeles public library. 

Name: Andriana Martin
Library: Lodi Public Library

Andriana has been working at a Public Library for roughly 2 years now. In her free time she enjoys reading, gaming, and traveling around the world.

Name: Jovanah Martinez-Hoboo
Library: Cutten Elementary School Library 

Jovanah has been the District Library Technician for a small school district in Humboldt County for the last 10 years. In her spare time Jovanah is a Dj, producer of all-ages shows, and slam performance poet.

Name: Terezita Overduin
Library: Chaffey College Library

Terezita Overduin is a Reference Librarian at Chaffey College and works to provide student-centered services, programs, and instruction. She has a passion for UX and library design, and her work will be published in the forthcoming publication “Building Our Own: Critiques, Narratives, and Practices by Community College Library Workers of Color.”

Name: Lauren Patterson
Library: Riverside County Law Library

Lauren Patterson is the Administrative Officer for the Riverside County Law Library. She earned her B.A. in political science from UCLA and J.D. from USC. 

Name: Christy Ricky Meister
Library: San Diego Public Library, Ocean Beach Branch

Christy Rickey Meister is the manager of the Ocean Beach Branch Library, part of the San Diego Public Library system. She is committed to connecting her community to needed services, information, and enrichment in a warm, welcoming, and safe environment. 

Name: Elsie Rivas
Library: San Diego Public Library

Elsie is a self-professed Jill of many trades mostly delving into creative ventures such as sewing or crafting. A spooky loving gal with infinite curiosity and endless optimism, a lover of romance novels, Pedro Pascal, Star Wars and her family.

Name: Alicia Rodriguez
Library: Los Angeles Public Library

Alicia Rodriguez is a bilingual outreach librarian and she loves sharing information about FREE library services with EVERYONE especially the Spanish speaking communities. She loves horror films and she has a sewing program called It’s Sew Cool! 

Name: Valerie Tohom
Library: Los Angeles Public Library

Valerie is a San Jose State University graduate student earning her Masters in Library and Information Science and a Messenger Clerk with the Los Angeles Public Library. 


Community-Centered Libraries: Choose Your Own Data Adventure!

A guest post by Linda Hofschire, Community-Centered Libraries and Meg DePriest, California State Library

Do you work with quantitative data such as demographics, outputs (circulation, program attendance, etc.), or survey responses? This fall and winter, the California State Library and Pacific Library Partnership are providing training on equitable data practices as part of the Community-Centered Libraries: Harnessing the Power of Data to Equitably Serve Your Community project. This training will enable you to:

  • Gain a greater awareness of how the subjective choices you make when working with quantitative data have statistical and human consequences 
  • Become conscious of whose lived experience you are prioritizing in your data projects
  • Acquire tools and skills for working with quantitative data so that it aligns with the intended experiences of the people you care about
  • Develop connections with peers around California who are engaged in similar work

We’re offering this training in a variety of formats so that there is something for everyone! You can participate in:

  1. Webinars: Are you curious about this topic but don’t have a lot of time to dive deep?  Join us for our four-webinar series. We encourage you to attend all of the webinars, but you’re also welcome to sample sessions that look interesting. 
  1. Cohort: This is for people who want to dive deep into a data project and connect with peers around California who are doing similar work. Cohort members will participate in eight sessions online between October and February, work on a project, and meet in person in May (travel stipends will be provided). The deadline to apply for the Equitable Data Practices cohort is October 5th.
  1. In-Person Workshops: Do you learn better in-person rather than online, and want to meet with other data people to socialize and learn together? We are offering one-day workshops in Sacramento and Ontario in May 2024.

Heather Krause, data scientist and founder of We All Count, will be leading all of the Equitable Data Practices trainings – webinars, cohort, and in-person workshops. The first webinar has already occurred and you can check it out in the Community-Centered Libraries online community space (all California library workers are welcome to join this space!). After attending this webinar, one participant commented, “the presentation was so impactful and the information provided feels really actionable.”

During the winter and spring of 2024, we will offer a webinar series, in-person workshops, and cohort learning opportunities on the topic of Culturally Responsive Evaluation. You can learn more about these opportunities on the Community-Centered Libraries website.  

Questions? Please contact Linda Hofschire, Community-Centered Libraries Project Manager. 


Don’t Miss Out

Have you taken an on demand learning module in CALL Academy lately? If you haven’t, you’re missing out!

CALL Academy is a great way to learn at your own pace. Learning modules can be accessed any time of day, any day of the week. Most take about an hour to complete, but if you can’t finish in one session you can come back anytime to pick up where you left off!

CALL Academy has over 800 learning modules to choose from on various topics such as communication, crisis situations (like de-escalation), leadership, trauma-informed practices and more!

But, like any collection, sometimes the CALL team has to do some weeding. Check out these learning modules before they’re gone!

Trying out CALL Academy for the first time? Create an account using your library email address for instant access. If you don’t have a library email address that’s OK! Sign up using your personal email address and you’ll receive a short email from CALL to verify your library affiliation.

CALL Academy is a resource available to all library staff in California, library volunteers, and individuals associated with various library projects.



Helping California Ensure Their Libraries’ Direction Is Consistent with Community Needs

Guest Post by PolicyMap and Meg DePriest, Library Programs Consultant, California State Library

The California State Library, in collaboration with Pacific Library Partnership, is now offering free access to PolicyMap as a resource for data and mapping for public library administrators and workers. California’s public libraries are essential institutions for fostering community progress and well-being. Trustworthy information from diverse yet reliable sources is crucial for making strategic decisions. Here’s a snapshot of how PolicyMap can elevate the offerings of public libraries in California for the betterment of communities:

  • Informing Strategic Planning: Libraries must understand communities/ evolving needs. PolicyMap’s geographic information offers insights into local demographics, assets, and needs, enabling libraries to align services and resources effectively with their communities. An easily accessible Community Profile Report can be produced for any area you draw on the map, a radius around your central library or branch, or by clicking the library district name, as in this example where we chose Solano County Library. Download a sample report.
PolicyMap portal map with an outline of the Solano County Library service area. (Data available for download in PolicyMap)
  • Simplifying Data Collection: Administrative reports, strategic plans, demographic reports, and grant reports, to name a few, may require extensive data collection from multiple sites. PolicyMap simplifies this work by providing the information you need one place, making data collection efficient and thorough. You can collect and download data from 150 disparate sources.
  • Enhancing Collection Management: Library administrators generate reports for their Boards, local and state governments, grantors and donors, the public and their staff, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which provides federal support for libraries. Awareness of your community ensures that your library collection resonates with the diverse needs and interests of the community.
  • Designing Targeted Community Programs: Libraries can harness local data from PolicyMap to curate collections and design programs that directly address and engage a community’s unique needs. In this example, we have clicked on the boundary for the Monterey Library District to download information about educational attainment with a list of public schools, including enrollment information, into a CSV spreadsheet, or you can view the data in the sidebar.
PolicyMap portal map with an outline of Monterey County Free Library service area and educational attainment. (Data available for download in PolicyMap)
  • Supporting Grant Applications: Using PolicyMap, librarians, grant writers, and board members can provide compelling evidence and impact statistics that grantors often seek, bolstering the quality of grant proposals. Information that identifies a gap or need in the community that the grant will address—such as demographic information about the community including age groups, access to fresh, healthy foods, educational attainment, languages spoken, and access to the internet or computers–is readily available and easily understandable with maps to support current information.
PolicyMap portal map with an outline of Ventura County Library service area showing low income tracts that are not close to grocery stores. (Data available for download in PolicyMap)
  • Facilitating Patron Research: Whether you’re supporting students working on projects, local entrepreneurs seeking market insights, or community activists wanting neighborhood information, having reference staff equipped with PolicyMap means patrons get in-depth maps, trend charts, and community profile reports.
  • Promoting Digital Equity and Ebook Projects: PolicyMap can be valuable in understanding digital divides, helping libraries design projects that address inequities, and ensuring all patrons have equal access to ebooks and other digital resources.
  • Accessing Information for Needs Assessments: Beyond just offering books and digital resources, libraries can use PolicyMap to conduct comprehensive needs assessments, providing in-depth information and helping position the library as a community anchor.
  • Inclusive Design with Communities: Designing programs with communities, rather than just for them, promote inclusion, equity, and belonging. Libraries can use PolicyMap to deeply understand community assets and needs and then begin to design in tandem with local aspirations.
  • Narrating the Library’s Story: A story well told can be transformative. Library directors can harness maps and information from PolicyMap to convey the library’s narrative, impact, and vision to boards and governing bodies, leading to stronger support and understanding.
  • Championing Inclusivity: Using PolicyMap, libraries can identify areas of marginalization or underrepresentation, ensuring library services and resources are crafted to be inclusive.

PolicyMap Empowers Libraries to Develop Offerings That Meet the Evolving Demands of the Neighborhoods They Serve

PolicyMap isn’t just a data tool. For libraries, it’s a means to deepen community connections, inform strategic decisions, and ensure every patron feels seen and served. By leveraging this information, libraries can be more adaptive, inclusive, and practical, cementing their role as indispensable community pillars.

Interested in using PolicyMap? Request an account here. Guidance for use is available on the platform. Training sessions are available twice a week; register here

PolicyMap is now available to all California public library staff as part of a statewide initiative by the California State Library and the Pacific Library Partnership to support libraries in making equity-based, data-driven decisions for community impact.

This project is supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.