By Mary Ellen Burd, Pennsylvania Humanities Council

A new national report by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) highlight the many ways museums and libraries collaborate with public-sector partners to address the needs of economically distressed communities.

On February 17 IMLS and LISC, with local help from the PA Humanities Council (PHC), Philadelphia LISC, the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP), and the Philadelphia Associ-ation of Community Development Corporations (PACDC), convened PA library, museum, and community-development leaders to roll out the report findings, further discuss the topics at hand, and forge paths to greater collaboration in our PA communities.

The program kicked off with a welcome from the director of the IMLS, Kathryn K. Matthew, who wrote in a follow-up blog post, “There is a movement underway to look ‘outside-in’ with our communities to understand how the organizational assets of museums and libraries can best be used, and it’s truly exciting to watch.”

“There is no amount of money that is ever going to solve all the problems that we’ve identified in poor neighborhoods, it’s just not there,” said Chris Walker, Research Director at LISC. “But if we change the way institutions function we can change the opportunity set available to people in poor communities and that is part of our commitment.”

The rich humanities experience provided by libraries and museums can act as a support for the community, but this is a resource that often goes unused. As Lau-rie Zierer, Executive Director at PHC, put it during the convening, “The humanities bring people together who don’t normally sit at the same table to think through is-sues that matter.”

To download the report or read a full event summary, visit