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#Californians   |  #CommunityConversations  |  @CaliforniaCenterfortheBook
Last Updated: 02/05/2018


Californians: Community Conversations About the Arts will serve as a springboard for exploring and discussing how the Arts – visual arts, literary arts, performing arts – impact both individuals and the community. This toolkit will help you design, promote, implement, and assess your programs.

Participating libraries will receive:

Participating libraries agree to:


Keep these statewide outcomes in mind as you design your series of programs. Programs should focus on getting the community involved in thinking about the arts, discovering arts opportunities and organizations in the community, and discussing how the arts impact both individual members of the community and the community as a whole.  Work with your community partner to incorporate additional local outcomes as appropriate.

The intended statewide outcomes are:


With all library programming, community partnerships are vital.  Both the library and the community partner should gain perspective on how to engage with their communities, reach greater audiences than they would alone, and collaborate to tap into community needs. Building connections among library patrons and outside partners places the library as a true community hub.  Partnerships will provide you with subject experts and create momentum with future programming of this nature and beyond. Consider partnering with:  


Libraries can only be able to claim themselves as true community centers when they can point to the dialogue and connection they bring to the life of the public. -- Chris Brown (2015) Conversation-Based Librarianship: A New Potential for Community Knowledge, Journal of Library Administration, 55:6, 483-493.

We know that getting the conversation going can be difficult! Start with the ALA Dialogue & Deliberation Resources for background information. The Convening Community Conversations  article by Jennifer A. Dixon (October 23, 2017) is a great resource. Explore  the tools for librarians and organizations hosting community conversations.  Below are more ideas to get your community thinking and talking about the impact of the arts.

Conversation Starters

Background Reading


  1. ALA Public Programs Office - cultural and community programming for libraries
  2. Americans for the Arts -  best ideas from the arts, communities, and business
  3. Art21 - Resources for teaching and learning about the creative process
  4. Art in the Twenty-First Century - TV series on contemporary visual art and artists
  5. California Arts Council - builds public will and resources for the arts
  6. California Humanities -  nonprofit promoting field building, public engagement and education of the humanities in California (e.g. the Library Innovation Lab)
  7. Center for Cultural Innovation -  knowledge sharing for artists and creative entrepreneurs
  8. Criterion Collection - A resource center for films and cinema
  9. Kanopy - documentaries and theatrical releases (Check for public performance rights)
  10. KCET – Artbound - Explores the arts and culture of Southern and Central California
  11. Los Angeles Review of Books - Writing on literature, culture, and the arts
  12. The Moth - Moth stories are true, as remembered by the storyteller
  13. PBS Program: Arts & The Mind - Art is not a “luxury,” but central to the development of the human brain in youth and keeping our minds sharp as we get older
  14. Poets & Writers - brings writers to organizations through matching grants
  15. TED Talks   |  Using TEDTalks in the Library - “Ideas Worth Spreading” free to use in library settings, with no public performance restrictions
  1.  The Emotional Impact of Architecture 
  2. Music Around the World
  3. The Power of Film 
  4. Talks for Aspiring Rockstars 
  5. The Transformative Power of Street Art
  6. A Trip to the Museum


Librarians are masters of programming and this topic lends itself to endless possibilities! Here are a few ideas about creating successful Community Conversations About the Arts programs in collaboration with your community partner.  Feel free to tie your programming into a monthly celebration or combine with a planned theme on your annual programming calendar. Keep your focus on creating programs that inspire adults in your community to think about, experience, and discuss how the arts impact themselves and their community.  California Center for the Book will reimburse ONE community partner, nonprofit organization, speaker, or moderator up to $350. This may or may not be your community partner. It’s up to you! More information will be provided in the orientation webinar.  Below are some samples programs to get the wheels turning. Feel free to create your own and let us know!


Surveys should be distributed to participants at two (or more) of your public programs. This enables you and the California Center for the Book to quickly get feedback and measure statewide outcomes. Feel free to add questions as they relate to your local programming, but be sure to include questions 1-4 so we can measure statewide outcomes.  When patrons return the surveys, tally the results, and submit these totals, along with your program attendance numbers and librarian and patron feedback in the final report due online July 15, 2018. The participant questions are included below for reference. The scale used is: Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree. If you’d like to use this postcard survey template, please email for access.

  1. I learned something new and valuable ABOUT THE ARTS in my community.
  2. I learned more about local opportunities for INVOLVEMENT in the arts.
  3. This program increased my understanding of the IMPACT OF THE ARTS on individuals and communities.
  4. I am likely to attend another program of this type.


See the Sample Press Release at the end of this Toolkit! Feel free to include on the press release distribution list.

Californians: Community Conversations About the Arts programs should be promoted with the following links to California Center for the Book and hashtags, where appropriate. All major promotions should also include both the California Center for the Book logo and the IMLS statement at bottom.

Please see the CCFB Promotions page for our logo, links, IMLS statement,  and hashtags.  


The booklist below includes links to each title on GoodReads. These titles will ship directly from Ingram to your library and should be added to your library collection.  More information about processing, cataloging ideas,  and promotion will be covered in the webinar. Feel free to use these titles as programming inspiration or to further your community conversations about the arts.

33 Artists in 3 Acts by Sarah Thornton
The best-selling author of Seven Days in the Art World now tells the story of the artists themselves—how they move through the world, command credibility, and create iconic works.

Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa by Michael Kimmelman
Readers have come to expect Kimmelman not only to fill in their knowledge about art but also to inspire them to think about connections between art and the larger world - which is to say, to think more like an artist. Kimmelman's many years of contemplating and writing about art have brought him to this wise, wide-ranging, and long-awaited book.

Art Heals: How Creativity Cures the Soul by Shaun McNiff
The field of art therapy is discovering that artistic expression can be a powerful means of personal transformation and emotional and spiritual healing. Shaun McNiff, a leader in expressive arts therapy for more than three decades, reflects on a wide spectrum of activities aimed at reviving art's traditional healing function. In chapters ranging from "Liberating Creativity" and "The Practice of Creativity in the Workplace" to "From Shamanism to Art Therapy," he illuminates some of the most progressive views in the rapidly expanding field of art therapy.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
The Artist’s Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. An international bestseller, millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living the artist’s life. Still as vital today—or perhaps even more so—than it was when it was first published one decade ago, it is a powerfully provocative and inspiring work.

Before I Die by Candy Chang
After losing someone she loved, artist Candy Chang painted the side of an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood with chalkboard paint and stenciled the sentence, "Before I die I want to _____." Within a day of the wall's completion, it was covered in colorful chalk dreams as neighbors stopped and reflected on their lives. Since then, more than 400 Before I Die walls have been created by people all over the world. Filled with hope, fear, humor, and heartbreak, Before I Die presents an intimate portrait of the dreams within our communities and a chance to ponder life's ultimate question

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer's life. From "Getting Started,' with "Short Assignments," through "Shitty First Drafts," "Character," "Plot," "Dialogue." all the way from "False Starts" to "How Do You Know When You're Done?" Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires. She discusses "Writers Block," "Writing Groups," and "Publication." Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive.

Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order) by Bridget Quinn
Historically, major women artists have been excluded from the mainstream art canon. Aligned with the resurgence of feminism in pop culture, Broad Strokes offers an entertaining corrective to that omission. Art historian Bridget Quinn delves into the lives and careers of 15 brilliant female artists in text that's smart, feisty, educational, and an enjoyable read.  This is art history from 1600 to the present day for the modern art lover, reader, and feminist

Common Threads: Weaving Community Through Collaborative Eco-Art by Sharon Kallis
Disposing of unwanted natural materials can be expensive and time-consuming, or it can present a tremendous opportunity for creating collaborative eco-art. Invasive-species control, green-waste management, urban gardening, and traditional crafts can all be brought together to strengthen community relationships and foster responsible land stewardship. Simple, easily taught, creative techniques applied with shared purpose become the modern-day equivalent of a barn raising or a quilting bee.

Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art byt H. Kester Grant
Some of the most innovative art of the past decade has been created far outside conventional galleries and museums. In a parking garage in Oakland, California; on a pleasure boat on the Lake of Zurich in Switzerland; at a public market in Chiang Mai, Thailand—artists operating at the intersection of art and cultural activism have been developing new forms of collaboration with diverse audiences and communities. Their projects have addressed such issues as political conflict in Northern Ireland, gang violence on Chicago's West Side, and the problems of sex workers in Switzerland.

Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp
Creativity is not a gift from the gods, says Twyla Tharp, bestowed by some divine and mystical spark. It is the product of preparation and effort, and it's within reach of everyone who wants to achieve it. All it takes is the willingness to make creativity a habit, an integral part of your life: In order to be creative, you have to know how to prepare to be creative. In The Creative Habit, Tharp takes the lessons she has learned in her remarkable thirty-five-year career and shares them with you, whatever creative impulses you follow -- whether you are a painter, composer, writer, director, choreographer, or, for that matter, a business person working on a deal, a chef developing a new dish, a mother wanting her child to see the world anew.

Draw Your Weapons by Sarah Sentilles
A single book might not change the world. But this utterly original meditation on art and war might transform the way you see the world--and that makes all the difference. Through a dazzling combination of memoir, history, reporting, visual culture, literature, and theology, Sarah Sentilles offers an impassioned defense of life lived by peace and principle. It is a literary collage with an urgent hope at its core: that art might offer tools for remaking the world.

Healing with the Arts: A 12-Week Program to Heal Yourself and Your Community by Michael Samuels and Mary Rockwood Lane
From musicians in hospitals to quilts on the National Mall—art is already healing people all over the world. It is helping veterans recover, improving the quality of life for cancer patients, and bringing communities together to improve their neighborhoods. Now it’s your turn. Through art projects, including visual arts, dance, writing, and music, along with spiritual practices and guided imagery,
Healing with the Arts gives you the tools to address what you need to heal in your life—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

New Creative Community: The Art of Cultural Development by Arlene Goldbard
A foundational textbook about how communities develop themselves and affect social change through the creative arts. This comprehensive, photographically illustrated treatise on the field of community-based arts, which range from political theater on the street to murals celebrating cultural heritage, will appeal to the curious non-specialist reader, as well as the practitioner and student.

A People's Art History of the United States: 250 Years of Activist Art and Artists Working in Social Justice Movements

A People's Art History of the United States: 250 Years of Activist Art and Artists Working in Social Justice Movements by Nicolas Lampert
Most people outside of the art world view art as something that is foreign to their experiences and everyday lives. A People’s Art History of the United States places art history squarely in the rough–and–tumble of politics, social struggles, and the fight for justice from the colonial era through the present day.

Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer
In this technology-driven age, it’s tempting to believe that science can solve every mystery. After all, science has cured countless diseases and even sent humans into space. But as Jonah Lehrer argues in this sparkling debut, science is not the only path to knowledge. In fact, when it comes to understanding the brain, art got there first.

Real Artists Don't Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age by Jeff Goins
Bestselling author and creativity expert Jeff Goins dismantles the myth that being creative is a hindrance to success by revealing how an artistic temperament is in fact a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Six Drawing Lessons by William Kentridge
Over the last three decades, the visual artist William Kentridge has garnered international acclaim for his work across media including drawing, film, sculpture, printmaking, and theater. Rendered in stark contrasts of black and white, his images reflect his native South Africa and, like endlessly suggestive shadows, point to something more elemental as well. Based on the 2012 Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, Six Drawing Lessons is the most comprehensive collection available of Kentridge's thoughts on art, art-making, and the studio.

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative by Austin Kleon
You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side

Stencil Nation: Graffiti, Community and Art
Without a doubt, stencils are the fastest, easiest, and cheapest method for painting an image on a wall, a sidewalk, or practically anywhere. Stencil Nation focuses on the unexpected mix of this lively, accessible medium—from famous artists including Banksy to international street stencils and gallery shows—to reveal engaging aspects of an intentionally secretive creative community.

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud
The bestselling international classic on storytelling and visual communication. Praised throughout the cartoon industry by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Matt Groening, and Will Eisner, Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics is a seminal examination of comics art: its rich history, surprising technical components, and major cultural significance. Explore the secret world between the panels, through the lines, and within the hidden symbols of a powerful but misunderstood art form.

Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire
Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research and Carolyn Gregoire’s popular article in the Huffington Post, Wired to Create offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Revealing the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, along with engaging examples of artists and innovators throughout history, the book shines a light on the practices and habits of mind that promote creative thinking. Kaufman and Gregoire untangle a series of paradoxes— like mindfulness and daydreaming, seriousness and play, openness and sensitivity, and solitude and collaboration – to show that it is by embracing our own contradictions that we are able to tap into our deepest creativity.

Titles you May Already Have in Your Collection (among others)

California Center for the Book is a program of the California Library Association, supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

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(LIBRARY NAME) To Participate in Californians: Community Conversations About the Arts


(CITY, STATE) (LIBRARY NAME) has been selected to participate in the Californians: Community Conversations About the Arts program from California Center for the Book. The program will serve as a springboard for community conversations and programming opportunities that explore how the Arts – visual arts, literary arts, performing arts – impact both individuals and the community.


The library has received a curated bookshelf of more than twenty titles to use as programming inspiration and to ignite dialogue about the arts with community members. In addition, California Center for the Book will support the library’s choice of local programming.


As part of the 2018 Californians cohort, (LIBRARY NAME) will roll out a series of programs including the following:



The Californians program will run through June 2018.


Find out more about the (LIBRARY NAME) programming for Californians: Community Conversations About the Arts by contacting: (ENTER LIBRARY CONTACT INFORMATION HERE)


California Center for the Book is a program of the California Library Association, supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.