Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation
Community Cluster Fellow
Project Goal: Libraries are committed to identifying community needs and delivering appropriate programs and services, especially in underserved communities where, by definition, there is often little contact with the non-user, i.e., the actual individuals who are underserved. The Free Library of Philadelphia currently utilizes various approaches to assess these needs: community profiles, social epidemiological models, market segmentation analysis, community surveys, and anecdotal information, and has recently reorganized into a geographical cluster model that will enable neighborhood libraries to serve their communities more nimbly. The Community Cluster Fellow will complete a project that aligns these disparate research methods and their best learnings to inform outreach methodology and program development in each cluster. Community needs should drive library program and service development and refinement in each cluster.
The mission of the Free Library of Philadelphia is to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity. Its vision is to build an enlightened community devoted to lifelong learning.
Address 1901 Vine Street
Total number of Agency Staff Members 800
Agency Budget $43,268,399
The fellow’s duties and responsibilities:
- Synthesize current Free Library information to assess the needs of underserved communities and of our focus populations (New Americans, small business, families with children under 5), within each cluster
- Create cluster needs assessment portfolios for each of our eight clusters
- Create outreach needs assessment roadmaps for each Free Library agency and cluster, mapping key stakeholders and stakeholder communities and preparing FLP outreach staff to activate these people via each cluster’s community council, and
- Begin analyzing data from the first three clusters to inform and recommend changes to the ongoing collection and analysis processes for all the clusters.
Skills/qualifications a fellow should have to succeed in the position:
- Excellent writing, presentation, and interpersonal skills
- Mastery of Microsoft Office suite
- Interest and experience in: analyzing data in a variety of formats and from a variety of sources; creating the proper data sets and integrating them from different tools; conducting formal and informal interviews; research
- Interest and experience in Philadelphia neighborhoods
Specific community need that the Philly Fellow will address:
Philadelphia is the poorest big city in the US, with an astounding 22.9% poverty rate as of the 2010 Census. This is a problem that is getting worse; in 1990, our povery rate was 20.3%, and in 1970 only 15.4%, according to census.gov. We also know from a recent Pew report about library use and attitude that African Americans and Hispanics are both more likely to use a library and more likely to rely on a library for vital needs such as internet access to pay bills, work on resumes, and apply for jobs (http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/09/15/libraries-at-the-crossroads/). But we do not reach all of the underserved people who are living in our communities, and need more rigorous methods of assessing and mapping needs, as well as reaching out to the most underserved Philadelphians. We have recently reorganized into a geographical cluster model that decentralizes authority and lets groups of 6-8 branches work in more aligned ways with the demonstrated needs in their communities. With over 61 locations around Philadelphia, we have unique access to the most vulnerable Philadelphians and hope to increase their access to and use of the branches.
How the agency addresses this need, and how the new capacity created by this fellow will help alleviate the problem:
The Free Library of Philadelphia currently utilizes various approaches to assess these needs: community profiles, social epidemiological models, market segmentation analysis, community surveys, and anecdotal information, and has recently reorganized into a geographical cluster model that will enable neighborhood libraries to serve their communities more nimbly. The Community Cluster Fellow will complete a project that aligns these disparate research methods and their best learnings to inform outreach methodology and program development in each cluster. Community needs should drive library program and service development and refinement in each cluster.
The organization’s experience operating anti-poverty programming of this nature:
In some ways, we run anti-poverty programming with more reach than any other agency in the city, except perhaps the School District, with early literacy storytimes, job skills and searching workshops for adults, our drop-in afterschool program (LEAP), our summer reading program, etc. But in other ways, our efforts are siloed and scattershot. This fellowship project would enhance the quality of our programming of this nature and help executive staff at the library systematize it make it more useful to the audiences in need.
Fellow orientation plan:
The fellow will work closely with the entire Strategic Initiatives team in an onboarding process to orient them to the work of the Free Library and our strategic priorities. In addition, there will be a structured curriculum of readings, meetings, tours, and trainings in the first month to introduce the fellow to the library and our communities, and vice versa. We also see training as an on-going need, and will offer appropriate professional development opportunities throughout their entire time here. They will have a weekly one-on-one with the Data Strategy and Evaluation Administrator, the first several of which will be focused on detailing a workplan for the year. That workplan will become the guiding document for additional training, as well as our way to measure performance and progress.
Name and title of the fellow’s immediate supervisor:
Joel Nichols, Data Strategy and Evaluation Administrator
Plans for supervision of the fellow:
The fellow will report to Data Strategy and Evaluation Administrator, and as detailed above, meet with him once a week. The administrator will develop a workplan with the fellow will become the guiding document for measuring performance and progress. They will be supported by close work with the rest of the Strategic Initiatives team, as well as with the 8 cluster leaders.
Will fellow be working at the same address listed above?
Will the fellow have their own…
Office? Fellow will share Desk? Fellow will have their own Computer? Fellow will have their own
The approximate percentage of time the fellow will work…
As a team member in a group setting 40%
As a team leader in a group setting 20%
Will the fellow be expected to travel as part of the position? Yes
If so, how often and where? We have 53 neighborhood locations; the fellow will occasionally visit neighborhood libraries for visits, tours, and events. All are accessible via easy SEPTA rides and/or by driving with library staff in a staff vehicle.
Will the fellow need the following to carry out the position…
A driver’s license? No
Their own car? No