Sunday, February 27, 2011

Not-for-profit announcement: BEYOND BOOKS: News, literacy, democracy and America's Libraries

"BEYOND BOOKS: News, literacy, democracy and America's Libraries" Assessing the common mission of journalists and librarians April 6-7, 2011 / MIT Center for Future Civic Media





For three centuries, in American towns large and small, two institutions have uniquely marked a commitment to participatory democracy, learning and open inquiry - our libraries and our free press. Today, as their tools change, their common missions of civic engagement and information transparency converge.
Economic and technology changes suggest an opportunity for collaboration among these two historic community information centers - one largely public, one largely private.
But How? The capability of newspapers to provide community information is declining. Library budgets are under challenge. At the same time, informal sources of local information are rapidly increasing.
On Wednesday and Thursday, April 6 and 7, 2011, Journalism That Matters, LLAMA, the Office of Information Technology Policy of the American Library Association, the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, the Media Giraffe
Project at UMass Amherst, the New England News Forum, the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Cambridge Public Library invite you to join in a work session for civic information transparency that builds
from and beyond books.
Our intention is to assess shared purpose -- and now shared channels and technologies -- among librarians and journalists to promote civic engagement and open access to information. More and more, libraries are becoming "community information centers" -- an evolution broadly supported in the recommendations of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities.
Libraries and legacy media have always shared a common purpose -- helping us acquire the information we need to be engaged, informed (and entertained) citizens. They used different tools - newspapers, broadcast stations and books.
Now the tools are converging - web search, data taxonomies, database creation and analysis, social networks - as librarians and journalists together foster civic literacy and engagement.
Librarians want to expand public access to accurate information, including trustworthy local news. So do journalists. How do we expand libraries as community information centers beyond books - perhaps even beyond their four walls - facilitating and engaging with journalists? What can libraries and journalists do - together - to foster improved access to community information?
Thus, 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?"
Via a pre-event social network, an evening agenda-setting dialogue, a day of roundtable planning and closing action commitments, we'll discover what's possible at the intersection of public spaces, open documents, citizen reporting and journalistic purpose. Among the questions we may ask:
* What does engagement mean to journalists and librarians?
* What might libraries do to facilitate community social news networks?
* Must free speech be absolute within a taxpayer-supported institution?
* How do we define the boundaries between engagement and partisanship?
* Are libraries poised to become public-access media centers as cable fades?
* Should a library operate a news collective, non-profit or citizen-journalism service?
* How can libraries help preserve a free digital information commons?

If you are a graduate student in library or information science, a technologist or journalist with relevant experience to our purpose, you  may apply for a travel/lodging stipend. Stipend awards will be made based on need around March 15. To apply, register now and choose the "request stipend" option.

Among our growing list of collaborators are(alpha order): Joe Bergantino (New England Center for Investigative Reporting), Jessica Durkin (New America Foundation fellow), Mike Fancher (RJI / Seattle Times-retired), Fabrice Florin (NewsTrust), Renee Hobbs, (Temple Univ.-Media Education); Marsha Iverson (ALA and King County libraries), Library Leadership & Management Assn. (LLAMA), Alan Inouye (director, Office of Info Tech Policy, ALA), Barbara Jones (ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom); Nancy Kranich (Rutgers Univ., chair ALA Center for Public Life), Lorrie LeJeune and Andrew Whitacre (MIT C4FCM), Leigh Montgomery (SLA news-division chair-elect, Christian Science Monitor librarian), Donna Nicely (Knight Commission/Nashville Public Library), Patrick Phillips (Vineyard Voice), Josh Stearns (, Colin Rhinesmith (Univ. of Illinois) and Bill Densmore, (New England News Forum/Media Giraffe Project/Reynolds Journalism Institute).

Email jtm (at) or call Bill Densmore at the the New England News Forum, 413-458-8001.
Bill Densmore, director/editor
The Media Giraffe Project / Journalism Program
108 Bartlett Hall / Univ. of Massachusetts
Amherst MA 01003
OFF: 413-577-4370 / CELL: 413-458-8001
densmore (at)