Civic engagement is a hot topic—here is a roundup of professional development events and additional civic engagement resources.
Getting Started: An Introduction to Convening Forums @ your library
February 28, 2012, 3–4 p.m.
Public deliberation is a process used to engage contentious, difficult issues from diverse perspectives. This session provided an introduction to deliberative conversations that public, academic, and school libraries are convening and how these discussions are repositioning libraries in their communities. View the recorded presentation or download related files (zip).
Moderating Forums @ your library, Part 1—Nuts and Bolts
March 27, 2012, 3–4 p.m.
This session covered what is involved in moderating a public deliberative forum in the library—how moderating is different from facilitating; how to promote deliberation; how to stay neutral but help people consider diverse perspectives; how to keep track of time and use an issue framework to help the group deliberate; and how to work with a forum recorder. View the recorded presentation or download related files (zip).
Moderating Forums @ your library, Part 2—Step-by-Step
April 24, 2012, 3–4 p.m.
This session continued Moderating Forums @ your library, Part 1—Nuts and Bolts, how to moderate and/or record a public deliberative forum at the library; a step-by-step guide to making a deliberative forum work, from introducing the issue and participants and showing the video, to deliberating about approaches and finding common ground; and ideas about how to gain practice moderating discussions. View the recorded presentation or download related files (zip).
Convening Forums @ your library—Nuts and Bolts
May 22, 2012, 3–4 p.m.
This session covered the logistics and choices involved in planning to hold a forum—choosing the issue topic; setting the date; preparing the room and equipment; publicity; assigning moderators and recorders; participant registration; following up after the forum; and preparing issue-related resources for forum participants. View the recorded presentation or download related files (zip).
Programming Librarian Resources
Engage Your Community: Hosting Forums Using the National Issues Forum Institute Model
About twelve years ago, the City of Virginia Beach began to investigate why its public hearings and other meetings with residents were so confrontational and what they could do differently. The resulting 2001 report, Connections for a Lifetime: Building Community Trust and Relationships, suggested a variety of actions, including “[m]ake public dialogue the cornerstone of a communication and interrelationships process whose outcome is a belief by citizens that they can make a difference in their community.” The report recognized that residents needed to improve their civic skills and be provided with more opportunities to talk with each other, not just at government.
Libraries and Democratic Life: Promoting Civic Engagement
Adam Davis, Director, Project on Civic Reflection: “I’m writing from outside the library world to talk about something powerful that can happen inside the library. I work with the Project on Civic Reflection, a national organization that helps get reflective discussion going in order to build community and deepen people’s understanding of their fellow community members and themselves.”
Libraries and the First Amendment
When five African American men entered the Audubon Regional Library in Clinton, Louisiana, they had already broken the law. The year was 1964, and their crime was entering a segregated, whites-only library. One man, Henry Brown, approached the circulation desk and requested a book, The Story of the Negro by Booker T. Washington. The librarian responded that the branch did not currently have the book, but that she would order it for him and would notify him when it arrived. She then asked the men to leave the facility. They refused and instead remained in silent protest against the library’s exclusionary policy.
Civic Engagement @ your library
The ALA Public Programs Office asked librarians to share their stories of civic engagement at the local library, specifically surrounding the 2008 presidential election season.
Engage! Teens, Art and Civic Engagement
Provides resources and information about this pilot program targeting young adult audiences through dynamic discussions that utilize the visual arts as springboards to civic engagement. Project funding has been provided by the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust and from the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Civic Awareness Month
September is Civic Awareness Month! As the International City/County Management Association notes, the month-long celebration “reminds us of the importance of cultivating an informed, involved citizenry that can work in partnership with its local government.”
Creating a Global Village
As the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) notes, “In the United States, foreign-born residents now constitute more than 12.4% of the population, a higher figure than at any time since 1910. … The integration of these millions of new residents into the fabric of American life is a major undertaking.” In order to address this increasingly important issue, ULC created “Welcome, Stranger: Public Libraries Build the Global Village“ along with an accompanying toolkit to help libraries.
Building Community through Engaged Discussion at Skokie Public Library
Director Carolyn Anthony writes, “One of the best programs we have had at the Skokie (Ill.) Public Library was not my idea, nor the idea of any of our staff. It was brought to us by some members of the Indian community who wanted the library to have a program in honor of Mahatma Gandhi.”
Book Discussion Resources
These book discussion resources include guides for civic discussions.
Programming Librarian Brainstormer
Links to civic engagement resources from around the web.
Building Common Ground
The goal of the Building Common Ground: Discussions of Community, Civility and Compassion project is to engage the public in contemplation and discussion of the importance of community, civility, and compassion in their daily lives. By bringing adult audiences together for programs and events that include reading, viewing, reflection, discussion, and civic engagement initiatives, public libraries will enhance the quality of life and learning in their communities.
The Conversation Continues: Hosting Public Issues Forums @ your library
Downloadable resources to accompany the webinars listed above.
Libraries Fostering Civic Engagement
Provides an ALA organizational home for members interested in facilitating public forums, fostering civic engagement, and framing issues for deliberation in their communities.
2012 Annual Conference
Civic Reflection Builds Community Connections: A Program Model for Libraries Preconference
Thursday, June 21, 1–5:30 p.m., and Friday, June 22, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.
Targeted at library directors, department heads, and senior staff from public, academic, and special libraries, this hands-on workshop will train participants in dialogue facilitation skills with proven success in strengthening partnerships, building effective teams across departments and organizations, and raising the profile of the library as a center for community life. Participants will leave with valuable facilitation skills that can immediately be put to use for their libraries and communities. Speakers: Adam Davis, Director, Center for Civic Reflection; Carolyn Anthony, Director, Skokie (Ill.) Public Library.
Libraries at the Crossroads: Programming for Civic Engagement
Saturday, June 23, 8–10 a.m.
Learn how libraries are serving as safe and neutral places to promote engagement and civic discourse. Nancy Kranich, Chair of the American Library Association’s Center for Civic Life Advisory Board, presents an overview of civic engagement programs taking place in libraries today. Librarians from across the field will share specific examples of different types of successful civic engagement programming that can work for you.