MIT, librarians, editors look "Beyond Books: News, Literacy, Democracy & Americas Libraries" April 6-7 / Cambridge

"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. How?

The capability of newspapers to provide community information is declining. At the same time, informal sources of local information are rapidly increasing.

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?"

On Wednesday and Thursday, April 6 and 7, 2011, Journalism That Matters, the American Society of News Editors, 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 and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute invite you to join in a work session for civic information transparency that builds from and beyond books.

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?


Among our list of collaborators are(alpha order): Joe Bergantino (New England Center for Investigative Reporting), Jessica Durkin (New America Foundation fellow), Linda Fantin, Minnesota Public Radio's Public Insight Network, 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), Josh Stearns (, Colin Rhinesmith (Univ. of Illinois) and Bill Densmore, (New England News Forum/Media Giraffe Project/Reynolds Journalism Institute).


Email or call Bill Densmore at the the New England News Forum, 413-458-8001.