Collective impact channels the knowledge and resources of multiple partners towards a specific social problem. With their commitment to meeting patrons needs, libraries seek ways to serve and strengthen their communities. Sometimes, however, the needs rise beyond the conventional realm of library services—and this has been particularly true since the recession. Through the strength of non-traditional partnerships, libraries offer innovative solutions to a variety of challenges faced by their communities.


I Love Libraries, Supporting one of our nation's most valuable resources Learn more about how libraries are innovating in response to societal trends on the I Love Libraries website.

Center for the Future of LibrariesVisit ALA's Center for the Future of Libraries for an indepth view into the impact of societal trends on libraries.

The Pennsylvania Avenue Branch of Baltimore’s Pratt Enoch Free Library is well known for providing comfort and shelter during that city’s tumultuous times. But it plays an equally important role in tackling a less publicized crisis, too: the branch is located in a food desert. Thus, in cooperation with ShopRite, the library offers Books & Bread, an online grocery service with delivery to the Penn Branch. Patrons can order online from home or from the library, and with librarian assistance when needed.

Hive @ Central Library in Phoenix offers business startup assistance with a twist. Through partnerships with the City of Phoenix and Arizona State University’s Entrepreneurship Outreach Network, Hive participants receive one-on-one mentoring, workshops and programs. The library offers in-house print and digital resources, along with the professional expertise of business librarians. Both library and patron are part of a statewide network that supports entrepreneurship and business development throughout Arizona.

Pima County Public Librarians were concerned about the safety and wellbeing of an increasing number of patrons facing serious challenges—due to health problems, economic challenges, and homelessness. At the same time, they wanted to ensure that the library felt safe and accessible to all. After learning about San Francisco Public Library’s embedded social worker, Pima County librarians met with the Pima County Health Department and collaboratively launched Library Nurse. Providing basic health screening and referral services, the impact of Library Nurse truly is collective and, with a decline in calls for emergency services, the library is able to serve everyone better.

How is your library innovating with Collective Impact? Let us know! Email: