Beyond Books: News, Literacy, Democracy and America’s Libraries Work Session

This work session for librarians, journalist and citizens will take place starting April 6th, so mark your calendars.  There are some fellowships for attendance for grad students available and you can browse the list of registered attendees.

I wish I were able to attend this but I’ll be following closely online through the blog and Twitter (hashtag #biblionews) and you can too!


From the website:

Libraries and legacy media always shared a common purpose — helping us acquire the information we need to be engaged, informed (and entertained) citizens. But they used different tools — newspapers, broadcast stations and books. Now they all share the web, information technology and increasingly a mission — fostering civic engagement and literacy.

As the tools and mission converge, it’s time to ask: “What’s possible at the intersection of libraries and journalism that serves the information needs of communities and democracy?”

“America’s libraries need sufficient funding to serve as centers for information, training, and civic dialogue,” the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities concluded in a 2009 report.

Journalism That Matters, the The MIT Center for Future Civic Media and other co-sponsors are staging a two-day workshop to identify, consider and organize methods for jouranalists and librarians to foster civic engagement. The two days will feature dialogue and participant-defined breakouts, beginning weeks in advance with pre-gathering interactive discussions, and continuing after we adjourn.

The latest national data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services show that library visits and circulation climbed nearly 20% from 1999 to 2008. Since then, experts say, technology has continued to drive in-person visits, circulation and usage. Now, the digital sphere is expanding: 82% of America’s more than 16,000 public libraries have Wi-Fi up from 37% four years ago, according to the American Library Association. A growing number of libraries are launching mobile websites and smart-phone applications.

A Pew Center study found that young adults are heaviest library users, even though they are also on the web. Pew and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign conducted the study jointly. One anecdotal finding: Libraries are increasingly creating social spaces within their walls.

The American Library Association cites these issues for libraries:

  • Empowering patrons to create their own news and media at the grassroots level. Such endeavors might include enhancing patrons’ skills in creating do-it-yourself forms of media using technology tools and resources available at the library
  • Generating news-like content via community documentation projects hosted at a library
  • Partnering with other like-minded organizations to create news collectives, non-profits, or citizen journalism projects.
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