April 3, 2011, Preliminary conversation between Alpha DeLap and Saul Tannenbaum
Tell me about your work and how it led you to saying yes to this workshop. What outcomes would you like for yourself and your organization/work from these sessions?
Saul: I work for a community television channel and am interested in the possibilities this type of a conference will open up. In some ways the link between librarians and journalists seems relatively novel, that said I’ve spent a lot of my life in libraries and one could argue that the Internet is the modern day library so though I’ve drifted away from libraries in everyday life, I would like to begin to re-invest in the libraries as spaces that can truly bridge the digital divide and re-charge civic engagement.
Alpha: I am a graduate student in library science at the University of Washington. I consider myself to be a writer, a teacher and voracious lover of the printed word. For me, the love of stories and their ability to transform people’s lives is what brings me to this work session. My belief is that both journalists and librarians are stewards of a society’s stories.
Tell me about an experience you’ve had which points to the potential at the intersection of journalism and libraries.
Saul: One example is Tufts medical library, an environment that moved away from the idea of the library as “a repository of the holy book” towards a community center with courses, printed resources, and of course, very importantly, coffee.
Alpha: One example I can think of is the Suffern municipal library in upstate New York. This was a small municipal library that had enough resources and support to create a physical and intellectual environment that encouraged civic engagement through its programming, its physical layout (meeting rooms, café, printing center, computer labs) and its staffing (librarians with a range of subject area expertise and experience with outreach to diverse users).
What do you value most about yourself? What do you yourself bringing to this workshop?
Saul: My ability to see connections whether others might not. Also, I value my range and breadth of knowledge in a number of subject areas. I consider myself to be a vacuum cleaner of information.
Alpha: Me, I’m a lover of people’s stories. I also value my ability to remember almost every person’s story I’ve ever heard. I am also a trained academic moving into pratice and thrilled about it: praxis!
2016. Librarians and journalists have a vibrant relationship that is catalyzing civic engagement in many communities. What is happening? How does this new environment function? Who does what? What is now possible as a result?
In 2016, libraries in urban and rural areas are spaces for true community reflection and debate. Funding is stable and increasing. Libraries continue to be repositories of printed texts, paper and electronic, but they are also training grounds for 21st century skills, especially those related to digital literacy. Libraries provide forums for local civic conversation and teach basic skills to document and curate current events. Libraries also include space for rotating collections with a range of themes that stimulate local conversations regarding societal issues and concerns. Librarians are fluent with multi-media tools and journalists are actively involved in library training programs, mentoring users and library staff, in journalistic writing and the use of digital equipment. Libraries contain multi-media equipment for check-out and provide space for editing and screening of media artifacts. In many ways, libraries become the 21st century internet-based equivalent of public access television, providing the technical infrastructure and support services in an inclusive, content-neutral framework allowing for all community voices to be heard.