Transforming a Culture of Learning Within the Library System

In a blog post earlier this year, I shared how Learning Dreams creates a culture of learning outside of schools. It connects struggling families with resources in the community to help people become active learners and make their dreams possible. Learning Dreams was inspired by my research at the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) that shows when families succeed, students achieve. We’ve recently embarked on an exciting, new learning model for the 21st Century through our partnership with the Hennepin County Library which officially kicked off in July with a budget of $98,000. Since joining forces with the Hennepin County Library, we’ve been exploring new ways to support learning inside and outside of libraries to reach people who may not go to the library.

Learning Dreams Transforms Culture of Learning Within the Library System
Libraries and Learning Dreams both have deep but not the same understandings of how to obtain and provide information. Together, we’re finding opportunities within the library system to develop more creative approaches for resourcing information to people in the community. For example, Learning Dreams plans to work with volunteers of the Homework Help program at Hennepin County Library East Lake location to help them achieve their learning dreams. In turn, volunteers will then work with parents of the students they’re tutoring to connect them with resources to support the parents’ dreams and encourage them to support the learning of their children.

In June, the Learning Dreams “Dreamcycle,” a mobile public art project transported by industrial tricycle, visited the Southside Garage – where juveniles who are ages 14-19 years old on probation meet with their probation officers – to share how Learning Dreams can help troubled youth succeed. Beginning this fall, several probation officers will be trained on how to start the conversation with their juveniles about their dreams and learn how to connect them with community resources to help them achieve their dreams. Our goal in working with the Southside Garage is to open doors to future collaboration between probation programs and library systems to help troubled youth become productive citizens.

Most recently, the Learning Dreams “Dreamcycle” visited Hosmer Library to take part in their annual talent show. Together, the Hennepin County Library and Learning Dreams staff invited community members to visit the “Dreamcycle” to start the conversation about what they would like to learn and to share their passions and dreams for the future. They were also offered the opportunity to connect with Learning Dreams to find resources within the library system and broader community to pursue their aspirations and dreams.

The Hennepin County Library is also co-sponsoring our second Southeast Minneapolis Learning Carnival on September 29th. Children and their families can participate in a variety of fun, hands-on learning activities provided for free by local businesses and community organizations. Through the carnival, families can make new connections and discover the many possibilities for learning experiences to help them achieve their dreams. (See the video of last year’s carnival at

We are excited to bring Learning Dreams on the road as part of this new Hennepin County Library outreach project. Check back for more updates as we will be exhibiting at various locations throughout Hennepin County this fall. Look for our “Dreamcycle” at the Hennepin County Government Center, History Museum and other library locations.

Interested in volunteering and/or partnering with Learning Dreams? Find out how to get involved here.

Jerry Stein

About the Author

Jerry Stein, Ph.D.

  • Youth Development Leadership Faculty
  • College of Education and Human Development
  • School of Social Work
  • University of Minnesota

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