Question Five

An internal team has developed and now works with a group representative from its target community for guidance in its efforts to remove barriers to inclusion.

What is it and why is it important?

Removing barriers to inclusion requires the development of authentic relationships with community groups to facilitate the community’s input in the library’s efforts to remove barriers to inclusion. The social inclusion definition states that an organization will operate in a participatory manner to view, challenge and explore its values and beliefs – all as part of its efforts to remove barriers to inclusion.

Dialogue with target community groups will help the library to:

  • gather the community members’ insights on the library,
  • source feedback on existing or new collections, programs,
  • receive recommendations on how to make the library more inclusive.

What does it look like and how do you do it?

It is important that the community advisory committee is facilitated and overseen by staff members and that the majority of the membership be representatives of the target community. It is important to clarify the roles of all involved.

There are two types of advisory committees:

  1. Ad hoc
  2. Permanent

Develop a community advisory plan of action. Recommended are the following steps extracted from the Community-Led Libraries Toolkit (Working Together Project, 2008), which have been re-formatted into an exercise table for easy use.

Figure 5.0 Steps to successfully develop a community partnership

From Community-Led Libraries Toolkit (pages referenced are pages in the Community-Led Libraries Toolkit)

Step Examples Your Input
1. Determine purpose of partnerships Broaden the library’s community involvement, operating with funding that is earmarked for a specific purpose such as literacy for certain neighbourhood, for single parents, for Aboriginal communities or for other target community needs. (p. 77)
2. Conduct community mapping to identify potential partners
3. Approach potential partners
4. Determine nature of partnership – formal partnership agreement or informal partnership agreement “A formal partnership involves a signed agreement, while an informal partnership needs only a verbal agreement…. An informal arrangement is equally professional and is as important as a formal partnership would be.” (p. 78)
5. Finalize content of partnership agreement When the details are worked out with the community partners, try to include, but not limit the discussion to: purpose, objectives, parameters, administration, communication, change.
6. Establish and build relationships
7. Evaluate the partnership(s)

For effective removal of barriers to inclusion, always remember to recruit advisory council members with majority representation from the targeted community. If the library is not familiar with this community group, it may choose to seek the assistance and participation of non-profit organizations that provide programs and services for this group.


If the library is looking to focus on a new immigrant group, contact local Immigrant and Settlement agencies for assistance.

Steps to Successful Community Outreach/Engagement:

  1. Community Entry

    The Community-Led Libraries Toolkit (Working Together Project, 2008) defines Community Entry as: “the process by which library staff enter community spaces intending to meet people where community members are most comfortable. Reaching socially excluded community members means leaving the library and being willing to accept that this might create an initial degree of discomfort and anxiety for library staff.” (p. 36)

    Types of Community Entry include:

    • Third-party facilitated approach
      The library will seek out service providers who are in constant interaction with socially excluded and marginalized groups and individuals.
    • Door-to-door and neighbourhood walkabout
      This is an up-close approach in which library staff visit individuals in the community they serve in order to get to know them personally and vice versa. Once the ice is broken, community members are more likely to open up and to freely share their needs. This approach helps staff members get to know their community members and therefore be enabled to provide relevant services. It is imperative for staff members to listen to community members’ stories, complaints, and praises about the library, especially to those of community members who shy away from use of the library’s services.
    • Word-of-mouth
      Make use of existing resources such as the community members in staff members’ social networks. These contacts can introduce staff to their own family members and circles of friends.
    • Community events
      The library could keep track of community events and try to have staff attend as many as possible. Remember to keep the focus on getting to empathetically know members of the community and not on educating and informing them about the library.
    • Outreach activity
      “This approach involves using a traditional outreach service as a way to enter the community.” (p. 46) It is important to be careful to avoid establishing a teacher-learner relationship with traditional outreach activities, as the desired relationship is one that is equal and collaborative.
  2. Orienting the Advisory Committee

    Provide an opportunity for the members of the new advisory committee to get to know each other and to become familiar with the concept of inclusion and the purpose of the project.

    The CULC/CBUC Social Inclusion Audit pilot used several techniques to orient the advisory committee. This box presents the agenda and associated exercises that were undertaken in the pilot. Libraries may choose to follow this format or use some of the techniques with their own inclusion advisory committees.

CULC/CBUC SIA Local Pilot Meeting #1
Agenda Overview – 2 hour meeting

Agenda Details
1. Welcome & Brief Introductions
(5 min approx)
  • Librarians and Settlement staff will introduce themselves and mention their title and describe their position.
  • Librarian ask the youth to introduce themselves by name and if they are a library user or non-user, and how they heard about this project.
  • Affirm the values of this project:
    • Honesty – “Please be honest with your opinions and suggestions, and please do not tell us what you think we may want to hear. We want to learn from you.”
    • Respect – “We respect your thoughts and opinion.”
    • Solution-Focused – “We need to hear your opinions about what we can do better.”
2. Brief Project Introduction and Terms
(30 min approx)
  • Librarians and Immigration/Settlement (I/S) staff will outline the project and the terms used. Remember to:
    • take time to entertain questions and clarify any areas of confusion,
    • ask them to share their thoughts on this project,
    • tell youth committee members that you will get into more detail about the project and their roles after the “Conocimiento/Getting To Know You” exercise.
3. Conocimiento Exercise: Full Introductions Warm-Up Exercise
(60 minutes – includes a Break)
  • Introduce and implement the Conocimiento Exercise.
    • Please take time to entertain questions and clarify any areas of confusion.
4. Mapping the Process
(10 minutes)
  • Outline the project – map it out on a chalkboard or whiteboard to show the evolution of the project. The act of visually unfolding the exercise will allow visual learners to understand the process more fully.
    • Take time to entertain questions and clarify any areas of confusion.
    • Entertain any suggestions or alterations to the plan.
5. Q&A Facilitate a Q&A session that will allow the youth committee members to:

  1. Share any personal experiences, opinions of exclusion/inclusion.
  2. What they hope will be included in this project.
  3. What they are looking to have changed as a result of this project.

Ask the questions outlined in the left column below and track the committee’s response. Someone – the librarian or I/S staff person – should be taking minutes.

6. Self-guided tour of the library As the group will be conducting the “Clipboard Walk-About Survey” in the next meeting, it is important for them to familiarize themselves with the library.

*IMPORTANT: It is important that the Librarians or I/S staff allow the youth to tour the library on their own, without a tour conducted by adults.

It is important that Librarians or I/S staff refrain from trying to make youth feel comfortable in the library, or to provide them with any context or explanation for any programs and services (including the non-library user) – at this point in the process. If this occurs, it can sway the opinions of the group and that data will not be reflective of their true impressions of the library. You will be provided with an opportunity to make the youth feel comfortable in the library – AFTER the clipboard walkabout survey is complete!

7. Outline next steps
  • Revisit the process map for this project and review the purpose of the next meeting.
  • Answer any questions that the committee might have and clarify any confusion about the process.
  • Address attendance – the need to have all members present. Ask the youth to suggest ways in which the group can work towards a 100% attendance at each meeting.
8. Next meeting? Date: ____________________
Time: ____________________
Location: ____________________
9. Honorariums and bus fare Provide honorariums and bus tickets at the end of the meeting not the beginning.
10. Informal Q&A Be available to answer questions from youth committee members post-meeting.

Project & Terms (agenda item #2)

Social Inclusion/Exclusion

  • This project is about social inclusion and social exclusion – and the library.
  • Does anyone know or think they know what social inclusion or social exclusion mean?

Notes for librarian leading the session:

  • Solicit input from the youth members. You or the I/S staff member may have to prompt or probe a little here to help the members to feel comfortable with sharing their opinion.
  • Summarize the points they make on easel paper. Please make a record of these points and share them with me as part of the minutes/overview from this meeting.
  • Summarize the various points/suggestions from the youth committee.
  • Reinforce comments that are made that are directly applicable to social inclusion and social exclusion.
  • Please clarify comments that are not clearly made.


This project is about social inclusion in libraries. We are studying how we can make this library (its programs, services, collections, staff, and physical environment) more socially inclusive for youth from ________________ (the Philippines, South Asia, Somalia, Middle East, and Africa).

Conocimiento Exercise (agenda item #3)

Background – for the facilitator

Conocimiento is based on pre-Columbian Meso-American tradition of educating the future leadership. A group of young men would be identified from the warrior, priestly, merchant and royal family castes. Those of the peasant or artisan caste could be included if they showed promise. These young men would attend a “calmeacac”, a kind of academy.

One of the operating principles of the calmeacac was that destiny was a very strong force in one’s life and the date of your birth had strong portents for one’s future. Also, and more relevant to us, is a strong belief that your family’s history has a great impact on who you would become. This Aztec practice also helped to build community by building cross-societal relationships.

Conocimiento now is a psychosocial historical process where one holistically develops insight into who one’s fellow participants are. This exercise is useful for teambuilding, identifying and honouring both commonalities and differences, and clarifying key cultural competent values. This helps build bonds with others by creating greater understanding among the participants. Conocimiento can be useful in repairing relationships because it helps people understand where others are coming from.


Paraphrase the above three paragraphs and provide this condensed background to the youth committee as an introduction to this exercise.

Required Resources

  • Masking tape, flip-chart paper, and markers (multiple colours) for all members of the committee including librarians and I/S staff.

Ground Rules

  • Participants don’t have to answer all questions.
  • Participants don’t have to tell us why.
  • Everything is confidential.
  • The responses are accepted for what they are.


The actual process is conducted in the following manner:

  1. Conocimiento means “getting to know you/someone/something.” Ask the youth for a word or phrase in their native language and write it on a blackboard or whiteboard.
  2. Sheets of flip chart paper and coloured markers are distributed to all of the participants.
  3. All are encouraged to write or draw (depict) their answers in large enough script to be legible.
  4. The facilitator presents the first set of three to five questions, reads them aloud and explains them as necessary.
  5. When all the question are answered, there is a break, where all are invited to read their colleagues’ answers/responses.
  6. After the break, the facilitator asks everyone to read all or part of their responses to the whole group, youth can choose to do this in pairs – this may make them feel more comfortable.
  7. After all have spoken, the facilitator or the youth committee members will summarize some of the lessons learned in Conocimiento (re commonalities and differences).
  8. Respondents are invited to take their easel sheet home with them if they like, or to keep their responses for use in future meetings.


Personal history/identity

  1. What is your name (your official name and your nicknames)? Is there a story to your name or are you named after someone?
  2. What city and country were you born in?
  3. How long have you lived in Canada?
  4. Have you ever been in a place where you felt totally foreign? What was that like?
  5. Where do you feel most comfortable? Why? (at home, at school…)
    Note: please do not add “in a library” as this can sway youth to tell you something you want to hear.

Facilitators – when summarizing this exercise…

Summarize common experiences such as:

  • Number of years in Canada
  • The feelings associated with feeling “foreign” or “excluded”
  • The feelings associated with feeling “comfortable” or “included”

Summarize the differences:

  • perhaps the librarians in attendance have been in Canada for multiple-generations,
  • differences in age between the librarians and the youth,
  • differences in perception of feeling “excluded” or “included.”

Note: It is very important, to the authenticity of this exercise and the project, that library staff state (where this is true) that because of their own ethnicity/colour, age, Canadian heritage, and ancestry, etc., that they acknowledge that they do not feel excluded, and that they feel that it is important to develop library programs and services that make everyone feel the same way (included).

Note: all library and immigration/settlement staff are to complete this exercise as well.

Example Conocimiento Easel Page – Betty Ferreira

I drew the seven images on the easel paper, wrote my name on it and described the images.

My profile description

I was born and live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I am a first generation Canadian of Portuguese descent.

My mother named me Elizabeth – an Anglo name (very Anglo – I was named after the Queen). She wanted my name to be familiar and easy to read to help minimize any perceived prejudices based on my ethnicity that I may face as a first-generation Canadian. She wanted to ensure that I was able to access and be included in all of the opportunities this country had to offer. I do not identify myself with Elizabeth; I have been referred to as “Betty” since Jr. Kindergarten.

I have traveled extensively around the world. In my early 30s I spent six months in Asia, where I found it difficult to communicate with people, to get directions, to order food, etc. The language was so different from the languages I am familiar with (Portuguese, French, Spanish, and English). Our Canadian customs and traditions are so different from those in Asia. I was fascinated by them, but it took me time to adjust to the various cultures and mannerisms. I felt like I was an outsider looking in… as if there was a barrier between me and the people in the 10 countries I visited.

Map the process (agenda item #4)

Do: Draw this process (or one that is similar) out on a chalk board, white-erase board or on easel paper. The act of drawing out each phase (starting from the Youth Committee box at the bottom) will increase comprehension of this process. Many of us are visual learners, especially those of us who have limited comprehension of English.

The boxes highlighted in green are the youth committee meetings.

Q & A (agenda item #5)

The purpose of this exercise is to:

  • Show social exclusion in a personal context that youth members can relate to (Grounding),
  • Help them understand we want them to both tell us their concerns regarding social inclusion/exclusion AND work with us to help us improve (Empowering).


Facilitate a Q&A session that will allow youth committee members to:

  • share personal experiences, opinions of exclusion/inclusion,
  • express what they hope will be included in this project,
  • explain what they are looking to have changed as a result of this project.

The roots of social exclusion often include racism, prejudices, discrimination, and/or oppression.

  • Please allow youth the opportunity to speak about their experience using these terms.
    • 1–2 experiences are necessary for this exercise – others can share their experiences as well.
  • Connect the behaviour (racism, discrimination, oppression…) to the outcome: social exclusion. This will allow youth to understand the concept of social inclusion/exclusion.
    • If personal experiences of exclusion are shared, ensure you ask them the sub-question.
    • It’s very important the individual be provided with the opportunity to explain how the experience made them feel (if they want to share).
    • Acknowledge their experiences of social exclusion.
    • Even if the youth does not want to share their feelings, it is vital that you conclude by asking the youth the last question.

Ask the questions outlined in the left column below and track the committee’s response. Someone – the librarian or I/S staff person should be taking minutes.

Please connect their answer in the last question with our project and in particular the opportunity that youth will have to name the issues and concerns and be in control of identifying solutions.


The objectives of posing these questions are to:

  • focus the youth committee members on social inclusion and exclusion with respect to the library. (Grounding)
  • allow them to begin thinking about areas within the library that they would like to change or address.
    1. Have any of you ever had an experience where you felt you didn’t belong – where you felt excluded?
      • Do you wish that you had an opportunity to change the way that person thought about you or what they did?
    2. You will have an opportunity to recommend changes for the library as part of this project. What areas do you hope you can change at the end of this project?

Clipboard Walkabout Survey (agenda item #6)

One key component of the Pilot Social Inclusion Audit was the Clipboard Walkabout Survey undertaken by the new immigrant youth participating in the project. This exercise helped to acquaint them with the library and gain insight into how well they could navigate the library as low level or non-users.

A little information about you…

  1. What is your age?
  2. What is your gender?
  3. Were you born in Canada?
  4. If no, where were you born?
  5. If no, what year did you arrive to Canada?
  6. What languages do you speak at home?
  7. In what languages do you prefer to access information?
  8. Is there a library branch close to your home?
  9. Do you use it?


  1. Are there enough signs in the library?
    Yes / No / Not sure
  2. Are the signs visible and easy to find?
    Yes / No / Not sure
  3. Do you use the signs to help you find your way around this library?
    Yes / No / Not sure
  4. How important to you is it for the library to have signs with pictures on them (like the symbols used for the ladies and men’s washrooms)?
    Very Important / Somewhat Important / Not Important / Not Sure
  5. How important to you is it for the library to have signs in x languages?
    Very Important / Somewhat Important / Not Important / Not Sure

The library in your community

  1. Have you ever heard or seen advertising for the library in a location outside of the library?
    • Where did you see this?
    • What did it say?
    • How did it make you feel about using the library?
  2. Where did you first hear about the library?


  1. Do you think the library’s hours are convenient or inconvenient?
    Convenient / Inconvenient
    • If you think they’re inconvenient, tell us what would make them better:
      • Open more hours during the week Y/ N
      • Open more hours on the weekend Y/ N
      • Open more hours in the evenings Y/ N
      • Other (please specify)
  2. How easy is it for you to get to this library from:
    • Home Easy / Difficult (Rank 1-5)
    • School Easy / Difficult (Rank 1-5)
      • What makes it easy or difficult to get to the library?
  3. Do you have a library card? Y/ N
    • If you answered yes, How easy was it to find information about library membership?
      Easy / Difficult (Rank 1-5)
    • Was the information easy to understand?
      Easy / Difficult (Rank 1-5)
  4. Have you used the library’s computers? Y/ N
    • If you answered yes, what have you used them for?
      • Doing homework
      • Writing emails
      • Playing games online
      • Chatting (i.e. MSN)
      • Social networking sites (i.e. Facebook, MySpace)
      • Searching the library website
      • Searching the library catalogue
      • Looking for information on jobs
      • Other (please specify)
  5. Have you used the library’s website before? Y/ N
    • If you answered yes, How easy was it to use? Easy / Difficult (Rank 1-5)
      • Did you find the information you wanted? Y/ N
      • If not, how did you find the information you needed?
    • If you answered no, why haven’t you used the website?
      I didn’t know about it / I knew about it, but I prefer to get my information from: (please specify)
    • Could you look at the website now and tell us if you think it is:
      • Easy to use Strongly Disagree / Strongly Agree (Rank 1-5)
      • Relevant to your needs Strongly Disagree / Strongly Agree (Rank 1-5)
      • Relevant to your interests Strongly Disagree / Strongly Agree (Rank 1-5)

Catalogue and Collections

  1. Have you used the library’s online catalogue before? Y/ N
    • If you answered yes, how easy was it to use?
      Easy / Difficult (Rank 1-5)

      • Did you find the information you wanted? Y/ N
      • If not, how did you find the information you needed? (please specify)
    • If you answered no, why haven’t you used the online catalogue?
      I didn’t know about it / I knew about it, but I prefer to get my information from: (please specify)
    • Could you use it now and tell us if it is:
      • Easy to use
        Strongly Disagree / Strongly Agree (Rank 1-5)
    • Have you used the library’s collections? Y/ N
      • If you answered yes, what materials have you used?
        • Books
        • Magazines
        • Newspapers
        • DVDs
        • CDs
        • English-as-a-Second-Language resources
        • Digital collections
        • Other (please specify)
    • What do you think of the library’s collections? Please rate the following:
      • The collections are interesting
        Strongly Disagree / Strongly Agree (Rank 1-5)
    • The collections meet my needs for information about:
      • Homework/assignments
        Strongly Disagree / Strongly Agree (Rank 1-5)
      • Finding a job
        Strongly Disagree / Strongly Agree (Rank 1-5)
      • Hobbies
        Strongly Disagree / Strongly Agree (Rank 1-5)
      • There are enough materials
        Strongly Disagree / Strongly Agree (Rank 1-5)
      • They are easy to find
        Strongly Disagree / Strongly Agree (Rank 1-5)
    • Is there anything the library could do to improve its collections?
    • If you don’t use the collections, is there a reason why?

Programs and Services

  1. Have you attended any programs at the library? Y/N
    • If you answered yes, which one(s):
      • Conversation Circle
      • Homework Help
      • Book Clubs
      • Computer Courses
      • Author Visits
      • Employment Workshops
      • Other (please specify)
  2. How did you hear about the programs?
  3. Are there any changes you would like the library to make to its programs?
  4. If you haven’t attended any programs, why not?
  5. Are there any new programs you would like the library to offer?


  1. Did you know about part-time or summer job opportunities at the library for youth? Y/N
    • If you answered yes, how did you hear about these opportunities?
  2. Would you be interested in working at the library? Y/N
    • Why / Why not?
  3. Did you know about volunteer opportunities at the library for youth? Y/N
    • If you answered yes, how did you hear about these opportunities?
  4. Would you be interested in volunteering at the library? Y/N
    • Why / Why not?
  5. Did you know that the library offers a telephone interpretation service? (This service gives people who don’t feel comfortable speaking English the option of phoning an interpreter to help them communicate with library staff) Y/N
    • If yes, how did you hear about the service?
  6. Have you ever used the interpretation service? Y/N
    • If you answered yes, was the service:
      • Easy to use
        Strongly Disagree / Strongly Agree (Rank 1-5)
      • Helpful
        Strongly Disagree / Strongly Agree (Rank 1-5)

Physical Environment

  1. Do you feel that the staff team reflects the diversity of people, cultures, ethnicity, religion of the community? Y/N
  2. Would you like to see more people of different cultures and ethnicities in the staff team? Y/N
  3. Would you like to see staff members from your own ethno-cultural group (enter ethnicity here – Filipino, Somalian, etc.) Y/N
    • Please explain why or why not.
  4. How important is it to see staff members who are from diverse ethnicities, cultures, and religions?
    • Please explain why you would like to see more people from different cultures or why you would not.
  5. Do you feel that the art work, displays, furniture, and materials used for the furniture are culturally diverse? Y/N
  6. How diverse do you feel the art work, displays, furniture, etc. are?
    Not Diverse / Very Diverse (Rank 1-5)
  7. Would you feel more comfortable in the library if you could see more culturally diverse art work, displays, furniture, or materials? Y/N
  8. How comfortable do you find the library generally?
    Not Comfortable / Very Comfortable (Rank 1-5)
  9. How comfortable and appropriate do you find the youth section of the library?
    Not Comfortable / Very Comfortable (Rank 1-5)
  10. How comfortable do you feel approaching a librarian for help? Not Comfortable / Very Comfortable (Rank 1-5)

Lessons from the Community-Led Libraries Toolkit (Working Together Project, 2008)

Below are more tips to help build relationships with the community advisory group members. They have been extracted from the Community-Led Libraries Toolkit:

  • Hanging out
    “This technique involves regularly visiting a community space to meet and talk with people. The immediate purpose of hanging out is to have conversations with people about themselves, their lives, their community, and their experiences or perceptions of the library.” (p. 63)

    “Relationship building occurs in places where community members feel most comfortable.” (p. 63)

  • Group Discussions
  • “In this technique, library staff participates in group discussions with community members in a community setting. A group discussion creates a comfortable environment for people who feel more at ease talking in a group than they do to an individual. “ (p. 69)

  • Attending Regular Meetings and Events
    “This can be an effective way to meet people who are not connected with service providers or with other community groups where you hang out.” (p. 71)
  • Important facets of relationship building:
    • confidence,
    • self awareness and self evaluation,
    • stress management,
    • setting boundaries,
    • listening,
    • humility,
    • professional relationships,
    • relationships have depth,
    • role of staff,
    • cultural protocols,
    • being proactive,
    • engaging community interest,
    • library experience,
    • research fatigue,
    • trust and respect.
  • (see pages 73-74 of Community-Led Libraries Toolkit for more information)

  • Feedback
    Develop methods to obtain feedback, input, and recommendations for removing barriers of inclusion that are targeted to their level of English fluency, age, ability to access computers, and interest.

CULC/CBUC Social Inclusion Audit

Focus Group Questions – New Immigrant Youth

  1. Do you use any public libraries? If so, which ones & why?
  2. What do you use the public library for? (What do you do while you’re there?)
    • Prompt: homework, computers (to do what?), reading, clubs (what kinds?), programs (what kinds?), tutoring, talk to friends, meet people, find information (what kinds?)
  3. What do you like about the libraries you use? What don’t you like?
  4. As we talked about at our last meeting, sometimes people may not feel comfortable or may not want to use the services at an organization. For example, some people don’t use public swimming pools because they don’t like to wear bathing suits in public. Are there any reasons that prevent you from using the library or any library services?
  5. Do you know of any reasons that your friends or other youth don’t want to use the library?
  6. At our last meeting, we walked around the library together and you were asked to write down how inclusive you thought different parts of the library are. Today, we are going to revisit that list and talk about things you think the library can do become more inclusive? [reproduce main headings in walk about list and add here]
  7. Do you have any other advice or recommendations for us to consider in making the library more welcoming or inclusive for youth?
  8. Do you think the social inclusion audit project we have outlined will help new immigrant youth to feel more included at the library? Do you have any more advise for us?
    • Review the research results with the group to obtain their input and feedback on how the library can become more inclusive.
    • Review results of the work with this community group with the appropriate program or operational team in order to develop or amend the policies and practices identified in this process.


Timeliness is critical!
In the CULC/CBUC pilot study there were several unfortunate actions that extended the timeline of the project. As a result, it was difficult to reconvene the pilot library committees to receive their input on the social inclusion audits completed by each library. Also, as many of the youth members had moved on to post-secondary school or moved out of the community, it was impossible to reconvene. CULC/CBUC would have liked to hold a celebration in appreciation of their contributions, and shared the knowledge their participation provided.

Tips from the Vancouver Public Library

The following are tips from the Vancouver Public Library for leading successful community-based advisory groups:


  • For a community advisory group to be truly community-led it should not involve “stand-ins” or “gatekeepers” such as service providers, politicians (MLAs, City Council members), people who study the community/community issues, etc. The group ought to be constituted by members of the community as well as those socially-excluded community members who may not normally be comfortable or welcome in such a setting.
  • Community Advisory Group procedures and meetings should be developed by committee members and do not have to fit into a formal structure. The group may want to use Robert’s Rules, but they could choose a less formal structure.
  • Meetings may need to be chaired by the library staff member at the beginning but, as soon as the group gains confidence in their task, should be handed over to the group members.
  • Community-led advisory groups may not take the form library staff members are accustomed to. Different groups may need to be established in different ways. Plus, it may be preferable to hold meetings in spaces where community members gather rather than at the library.
  • Proper support must be provided to encourage community members’ active involvement in the advisory group. At a minimum, provide:
    • substantial food (a meal if the meeting is held anywhere near meal time),
    • transportation (bus tickets),
    • childcare (ideally community members should be welcome to bring their children, or provided with an honorarium to hire a baby-sitter),
    • a stipend or honorarium is a good idea.
  • Advisory group activities should result in tangible changes. Group members will lose interest if they feel their ideas are not being taken seriously, or if they sense they are serving merely as “window dressing.”

Audit Tool Interpretation – How to assess Status and Progress

The Social Inclusion Audit Tool is designed to help the library assess its current status and level of progress in removing barriers to social inclusion. This box contains some examples to help when using the Audit Tool for Question 5.

Low Status/Low Progress

This may be the case when the library does not consistently use representatives from the target community to provide input on library programs, services, collections or promotion initiatives. The library does not have a plan to develop an advisory committee to assist with removing barriers to inclusion.

What should you do? Be Open to Change.

Refer back to Chapter One for a refresher on the value and importance of using community members to inform library and inclusion initiatives. The exercises in this chapter will assist with selecting an approach for engagement.

Low Status/High Progress

This may be the case when the library has not yet used community advisory committees to help inform library initiatives and promotion, but it recognizes the importance of this and has developed a plan. Maybe library staff have even started to make contact with community members or groups they think may be able to help.

What should you do? Refine.

The exercises in this chapter are useful to ensure the library has thoroughly covered all aspects to successfully engage with the community. It is helpful to take time to think about which staff should be responsible for specific sections of the outreach initiative and assign deadlines. Initiating engagement with the community, however informally, will keep momentum moving forward.

High Status/Low Progress

This may be the case when the library already engages in community outreach and consultation with the community on library initiatives. Perhaps there are focus groups and surveys conducted. This information is used when developing new strategies, but there isn’t a formal approach or a way of evaluating the success of these engagement actions.

What should you do? Become Intentional.

Developing a method of evaluating the success of outreach initiatives is important. Ensuring the library has an advisory committee and using the exercises in this chapter to ensure the right people are on the committee is crucial, as is developing a strategy to use community connections more effectively.

High Status/High Progress

This may be the case when the library has advisory committees from the target communities that work with library staff by contributing their opinions, insights, and knowledge to improve library programs, services, collections, and attendance for their group.

What should you do? Mentor Others.

The library is demonstrating a high capacity by reaching out to the target community and getting them actively involved in removing the barriers to social inclusion. No doubt there will have been some great successes along the way and some failures. Sharing these experiences with other libraries will help everyone on the way to becoming more inclusive.