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Transforming the Youngstown Public Library

Nevins Fellow Jack Ouligan interned at the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, where he researched how the Harwood method was used to restore pride and engagement at the Youngstown Public Library.

Penn State sophomore Jack Ouligan was a Nevins Fellow last summer. He worked for the very prestigious Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, serving as research assistant for founder Rich Harwood. As part of his work, Jack put together an article on the Youngstown Public Library.

The town was mired in corruption and scandal and the library was one of the only remaining public institution that citizens trusted, so the administrators felt an obligation to lead an effort to help Youngstown restore a sense of community and civic pride.  That piece was so well regarded that it was published in the academic journal Public Libraries Quarterly. Not bad for a college sophomore!

Here is how Jack described the project: “It really showed me how public institutions can make a tangible, positive impact on the lives of their constituents. Individual institutions have to listen to and fulfill the needs of their residents. It sounds simple, but it's really not, because listening to citizens in a meaningful way runs contrary to a lot of contemporary practices about running public institutions.”

Read Jack's article for Public Libraries Quarterly.