Free Library of Philadelphia

Community Cluster Research Fellow


Project Goal: To use library data, external data and in-depth community research to inform changes in library program and service design to become more relevant and useful to patrons and non-patrons in the most need in Philadelphia.


Agency Information


Agency Mission
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  1100

Agency Budget  $35 million

Job Description

The fellow’s duties and responsibilities:         

1) update cluster needs assessment portfolios for each of our eight clusters as needed

2) monitor and update 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

3) participate in action research in our most critical library communities

4) create infographics and other reports detailing their findings, and also demonstrating library impact


Skills/qualifications a fellow should have to succeed in the position:    

Critical thinking

Data analysis experience

infographic/graphic design skills

Fluency in a critical community language preferred (Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Russian)


Community Need

Specific community need that the Philly Fellow will address:

High-poverty communities experience barriers to using library services, including economic, geographical and cultural barriers, among others. According to a Philadelphia Inquirer article, Philadelphia has the highest poverty rate (nearly 30%) of any big city, and also has the deepest poverty, with almost 200,000 individuals–many of them children–living in deep poverty. The work of the community cluster research fellow digs deep into neighborhood and community needs assessments that equip the library to understand–and raze–barriers.


How the new capacity created by this fellow will help strengthen the community and alleviate the problem:   

Outreach plans that target the most vulnerable Philadelphians and contextualize the best way to reach them in terms of their own perception of community needs is a permanent solution to engaging and attracting new library users. These efforts will help us community and and lead to anti-poverty outcomes.  reach more of our most in-need populations, including children in deep poverty.


Level of community involvement in the fellow’s project:

30-40% of their project time will be devoted to direct research in and participation in and reporting about library user communities.


The organization’s experience operating anti-poverty programming of this nature:

The Free Library runs the second-largest afterschool program in the City, has maintained a summer reading program with more than 40,000 participants a year for more than 20 years, and reaches into almost every community in the city by being a warm (or cool), dry, friendly and accessible space for all Philadelphians.


Fellowship Logistics


Fellow orientation plan:

Weekly supervisory meetings with Data Strategy Administrator, and weekly team meetings with Strategic Initiatives team; orientation in all software and analytics tools; extra training as appropriate (GIS, etc.); on-going access to the Library’s professional development support


Name and title of the fellow’s immediate supervisor:  Joel Nichols; Data Strategy & Evaluation Administrator


Plans for supervision of the fellow:

Weekly one-on-one and team meetings; monthly workplans with accountability reviews at the end of the month; on-going coaching and professional development in interviewing, writing, skill development, fundraising, communication, etc.


Will fellow be working at the same address listed above? 



Will the fellow have their own…             

Office?  Fellow will share 
  Fellow will have their own
 Fellow will have their own


The approximate percentage of time the fellow will work…

Independently  40  

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?   Around the City to visit our 54 libraries spread across 9 clusters. Approximately once or twice a month.


Will the fellow need the following to carry out the position…

A driver’s license?  No

Their own car?   No