Libraries + Democracy:
A Library 2.016 panel discussion

Libraries are well positioned to help the people of their communities become more informed and active citizens. A Library 2.016 panel talks about why and how libraries are getting more involved in civic programming.

For a long time libraries have supported democratic societies as centers of learning, information, and community.

Today this role for libraries is more important than ever, as issues get more complex, media sources multiply, and people regularly question the reliability of their news feeds (and rightly so). Among the more trusted institutions around, libraries are in a good position to help the people of their communities become more informed citizens and critical thinkers—people who are prepared to participate in a democratic society.

At a Library 2.016: Libraries of the Future conference panel, I joined Mark Hudson, head of adult services at the Monroeville [Pennsylvania] Public Library, and Tasha Bergson-Michelson, instructional and programming librarian at Castilleja School in Palo Alto, California, to talk about libraries and democracy. In our all-too-brief session, we explored why libraries can and should get involved, then Tasha and Mark highlighted the civic engagement programs already under way in their libraries, including civics discussions, news literacy education, and resource guides on current events.

Our slides are up on SlideShare, and a complete recording of the 30-minute session is accessible to anyone who creates a free Library 2.0 account. Additional resources, including links to the materials we reference in the presentation, are also online, open access.

This content will be especially useful for public, school, and academic librarians, and I hope it will be of interest to any information professional looking for ways to support informed communities in a democratic society. If you know of other good examples of civic programs in libraries—libraries of any kind, anywhere—please post them in the comments below. I’ll continue to collect examples and build resources we can all share.


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