A new report from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Reinvestment Fund provides insights for libraries and museums to connect with their communities in newer and deeper ways. Produced as part of the Community Catalyst initiative, the 59-page report is a handbook for libraries and museums to position themselves as critical sites within broader social and institutional networks that support community well-being.

Strengthening Networks, Sparking Change: Museums and Libraries as Community Catalysts combines findings from a literature scan and input from the library, museum and community revitalization fields with case studies about the experiences and vision of museums and libraries working to spur change in their communities. It describes the complementary conceptual frameworks of social well-being and collective impact and explains how libraries and museums can use these concepts to partner with community-based organizations, government agencies and other cultural or educational organizations. It catalogs how partnerships are initiated; what tools and methods are available to assess community need and evaluate impact; and the skills and competencies needed to sustain partnerships.

“The Community Catalyst Initiative is our response to requests from libraries, archives, and museums for tools and resources that will enable them to further their efforts to spark catalytic change in communities,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “This report is a milestone in the Community Catalyst initiative and will be an invaluable tool for many years to come.”