Engaging Our Community Through Roundtables

When current Library Board president Dan McIntosh started his term, he started it by saying that 2016 had been an inspiring year for the Winter Park Public Library, and 2017 was going to be an engaging year. And indeed, it has been! Engagement with the community has been a top priority for this year, and nowhere is it more evident than in our continuation of Aspen Institute’s work through a series of community forums we call roundtables.

Each roundtable brings together community leaders in selected areas of community interest and asks those gathered to share their needs, goals and vision for our community’s future. And then we ask the most important questions: how can they library collaborate with them to achieve those things. The results of these meetings are being used to drive the ongoing conversations about the vision and planning for WPPL programming and resources in the new facility.

Our series kicked off in February at the Educators Roundtable, a gathering of professionals from 16 local educational institutions. The energy in the room was incredible as educational professional serving everyone from infants to retirees identified opportunities for partnership to enhance Winter Park’s educational ecosystem and create efficiencies. In the end, a primary recommendation was to proceed with the view that Winter Park itself is an “integrated learning campus” anchored by the library where educational institutions share spaces, resources, instructors and students whenever possible and appropriate.

In July 24, the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce hosted the Business Leaders Roundtable. Representatives from 10 different local businesses engaged in a discussion interaction and engagement with the WPPL that benefits the community as a whole. A number of exciting possibilities emerged including a library “Young Entrepreneurs Academy” with the local business community providing expertise and mentors. Another suggestion was for the library to partner with area hospitals to provide direct support to new mothers wishing to teach early literacy skills to their babies. Other business ledaers thought the new WPPL is strategically positioned to be the meeting place of choice for local young/emerging professionals groups.

This fall, there will be additional roundtables for arts and culture, nonprofits and faith-based organizations. We are thrilled to continue working with our community to launch innovative and relevant new endeavors.

The roundtable process was one of the recommended action items in Aspen Institute’s report, Winter Park Rising to the Challenge: A Report of the Winter Park Public Library Dialogue.

August 15, 2017