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Stories From the Ground

Below are stories of change emerging from the work of IMLS Catalyst library and museum teams across the US engaging more authentically with their community members in ways that center on resident capacities while growing local power and connectivity.

Portland Exhibition
Portland Art Museum undertook a dynamic process to center on and invest in community priorities, talents and assets. View some results via this short Live Broadcast from the Hank Willis Thomas Exhibit created by The Numberz - Portland's all-Black radio station - from their community partnership programming, and this article about their partners in residence.

Philly Journey Maps
The Free Library of Philadelphia has partnered with local organizations to support Paschalville neighbors in discovering, connecting and mobilizing the assets, talents and passions within their neighborhood. Learn more from these news articles and emergent creations:
Library Partnership Catalyzing a Community-Led Future (article, SBC Globe Times)

Journey Map: this illustration was created through a participatory, resident-led group process in which neighbors, library staffs, and organizational partners worked with neighborhood Maryam Muhammad. The illustration describes their journey (so far) as they have set out to discover, connect and activate their neighbors' assets and concerns while building collective power and agency.

Story Circles: Veterans Story Circle,SW Reading Captains Story Circle,Community Chat with Crossing Guards (articles, SBC Globe Times)

Interviews with local business owners: Fred's Water IceChocolate City Hair  StudioThe Best Way is the Jamaica WaySmiles’ Linens – the Anchor of  Woodland AvenueMaryam's Mark  (articles, SBC Globe Times)

You can find the team's distillation of their most valuable learnings, tools and tips for other library ABCD practitioners in this Toolbox for Library Community Catalyzers 

Tamara kaiya

Moving Beyond the Classroom: How a Training Initiative Sparked a Storytelling Project Amid the Pandemic - Former CCI grant recipient Tamara Grybko’s asset-based learning inspired her to pool local creative sector and youth talents in response to COVID-19. (IMLS, July 2020)

Story of Practice

Leventhal Map Center tells this story of engaging young people who took part in the “Empowering Maptivists” program to design and lead a storytelling process. In addition to surfacing powerful stories and building bonds between students, this experiment sparked energy in their institution to support youth  leadership and prioritize relationship-building as a goal in itself.

Ohio ENACT Ceremony

Emerging New American Community Team (ENACT) Introduction / Opening Ceremony Photos - Through the Ohio History Connection in Columbus, OH, New Americans built connections and community and led projects to make a difference locally.


Seattle Youth Climate Action Network (SYCAN) - with the support of Woodland Park Zoo and other local partners, Seattle youth have been leading efforts to combat climate change. See the young leaders featured on King 5 news / the project’s Journey Map  (image source: King County News 5)

The Haggerty Museum of Art

The Haggerty Museum of Art engaged creatively with Milwaukee community members including neighbors, artists, students, resident-led associations, and teachers as well as a wide array of local organizations to explore and build upon Milwaukee’s water story through the WaterMarks citywide public art project. 

Video / Overview / Journey Map and narrative  (image source: The Haggerty Museum of Art)

Emory Flyer

Emory University’s Rose Archive Library transformed their relationship with community through a collaborative project focused on combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the metropolitan Atlanta. View their Journey map and narrative.


Enoch Pratt Free Library - Baltimore residents can access a helping hand through the social worker in the library program at their local library: Good Morning America Feature / Blog article