WEBINAR: Strategic partnerships for librarians and journalists

What’s needed to create new partnerships among librarians and journalists that support community engagement? Journalism That Matters is conducting research and expects during 2012 to develop a resource center — virtual and real — and gatherings to help answer that question.

“To get started, we need a ‘place,’ both a physical place and a virtual place where interested journalists, librarians and citizens can go to learn more and contribute,” commented Michael Starks, of Zionsville, Indiana, one of the webinar organizers.

Beyond Books: What’s possible?

As a first step, two JTM board members, a former president of the American Library Association (ALA) and an active participant in community-engagement efforts in an urban Seattle library system produced a workshop at the American Library Assocation’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

Now that session has been turned into an archived webinar, delivered July 13 online to more than 130 participating librarians from across the country.  The archive of the 51-minute webinar “Competing in the Information Marketplace: Strategic Partnerships for Librarians and Journalists,” can be run with synchronized audio and video from this URL:


Be patient — in the first minute there is some silence cross talk with the presenters; then the workshop begins. If your browser or computer will not launch the Adobe Connect presentation, you can download an Adobe Acrobat PDF version of the slides and the accompanying downloadable MP3 audio track.  You can then step through the slides and manually sync it to the audio file. You can also ready the text of the live chat comments from participants.

The presenters (in speaking order) are Marsha Iverson, of the King County (Wash.) library system; Nancy Kranich, past ALA president and library-journalism lecturer and researcher Rutgers University; Mike Fancher, retired executive editor of the Seattle Times; and Bill Densmore, Reynolds Journalism Institute researcher. Fancher and Densmore are both on the board of the non-profit Journalism That Matters.  Kranich is also founder and leader of ALA’s just-forming “Center for Civic Life,” supported by the Kettering Foundation.

In the webinar, Iverson sets the agenda for the challenge — identifying the common purposes of journalists and librarians. Kranich returns to British and early-American history to establish that libraries originated from some of the same desires to provide free civic information to which journalism aspires. Fancher describes recent work of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities and his related white paper. and Densmore overviews the proceedings and insights from “Beyond Books,” an April 6-7, 2011, Journalism That Matters gathering at the MIT Center for Civic Media.

•Marsha Iverson  miverson@kcls.org
•Nancy Kranich  nancy.kranich@rutgers.edu
•Mike Fancher  fanch@mikefancher.com
Bill Densmore  densmore@mediagiraffe.org


As JTM researches next steps for fostering librarian-journalist collaboration, we’re calling for two pieces of information from “Beyond Books” and ALA webinar participants (and anyone reading this post). Email replies — including your name and contact information — to densmore@densmoreassociates.com
  • At your library on in your work, please describe any collaboration between news organizations and libraries, or journalists and librarians, that you’ve organized or been part of.  Please be specific so we can follow up. How did it work?
  • What do you see as the biggest opportunity, and the biggest challenge to journalist-librarian collaboration? How would you capitalize or overcome?
WATCH:  Beyond Books, the Video (8 minutes):
•ALA Center for Civic Life
•ALA Libraries Foster Civic Engagement Membership Initiative Group
Civic Engagement Blog
Libraries and Civic Engagement on ALA Connect
Bibliography of resources about libraries and civic engagement
Web links to civic engagement groups

•Subscribe to ALA’s Civic Engagement listserv:

Beyond Books: Read/watch/participate
Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy
LibrariUS: Stories from the Library
The Local East Village, Carter Journalism Inst.
At the crossroads of journalists and librarians, we find community engagement, Joy Mayer
•Beyond Books Consensus Statement on Libraries, Journalism and Participatory Democracy
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Speaking in the Big Easy

I was on a panel at the American Library Association conference in New Orleans, discussing strategic partnerships between journalists and librarians. The lively discussion lasted two hours, with lots of enthusiasm and ideas from the audience.

I talked about the report of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy and my just-release policy paper, “Re-Imagining Journalism: Local News for a Networked World.”

One clear impression from the panel discussion is that people think this is a worthwhile topic at a critical time for both professions. My key takeaways:

• Librarians see civic engagement as an important element in what they do and how they make their case for public support. Civic engagement helps democracy, but it also has economic benefits to communities.

• Digital literacy is a core competency of libraries. It needs to be actively advanced and promoted.

• Institutional inertia could be a barrier in some library systems. Students are being trained for a new library culture, but the needed cultural change may come slowly in some systems. (This is a great topic to explore for libraries and journalism.)

• People are excited about early results from LibrariUS, a partnership among the American Public Media Public, the ALA and its Public Library Association division. Attendees offered several ideas and examples for extending it.

• Several people spoke glowing about their experience at the Biblionews conference at MIT in April. Two items stood out: 1) the JTM methodology for bringing together people from different backgrounds and disciplines; 2) the use of information technology to capture the experience immediately and permanently. The librarians were particularly interested in the second item.

• The library community is ready to move ahead; bringing journalists along may be a tougher challenge. (That’s my view, not the librarians’.)

• Higher education needs to be a partner.

The nexus of journalism, libraries and civic engagement is a terrific area for Journalism That Matters to continue to be a catalyst.

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NEW: Slide deck for ALA-New Orleans

Download and view our  PDF-file slide deck for the American Library Association convention in New Orleans.  (CLICK TO DOWNLOAD)

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Video is up! Check out the amazing work we’re doing!

Featuring community pilot projects such as:

The Public Insight Network
The Investigative Dashboard

Continue reading

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CONSENSUS? The opportunity for journalist/librarian collaboration

On stage at CPL.

On stage at CPL.

A draft consensus statement for journalist/librarian collaboration is circulating after garnering support at “Beyond Books: News, Literacy, Democracy and America’s Libraries,” a two-day Journalism That Matters symposium in Cambridge April 6-7.

On Thursday, participants in “Beyond Books” moved to the Cambridge Public Library for a public wrapup session. Here are some of the phrases the used to describe next-step possibilities:

Context and onward . . . more narratives . . . reach beyond insider view of ourselves . . . be good stewards . . . journalism is thriving . . . reaching beyond the echo chamber, including this one . . . demographics are key . . . in the boat together . . . community is everything . . . empathy . . . risk taking . . . face to face communication . . . libraries present facts, media presents opinions . . . public spirit . . . storytelling . . . make stuff with your people and the rest follows . . . untapped opportunity . . . make it fun . . . keep studying . . . what is relevance? . . . action . . . foster serendipity . . . have hope . . . creativity and hope . . . experiment . . . vote for Pedro . . . intergenerational, multimedia, Boing Boing . . . more than words . . . the conversation is just beginning . . . we are in it together . . . delivery systems may change for stories, a good story will always be a good story . . . cultivate and preserve the conversation . . . media mapping . . . share your experience, discovery your expertise.
LINK: What would happen if Beyond Books forged a consensus statement on libraries, journalism and participatory democracy?

Seeding the conversation at the Cambridge Public Library (pictured above) were Jessica Durkin, a community-media researcher from Scranton, Pa.; Linda Fantin of American Public Media’s Public Insight Network;  Jorge Reina Schement, dean of the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University and and Nancy Kranich, a Rutgers librarian and former American Library Association president.

(Also see a wrapup post by RJI’s Joy Mayer)

VIDEO from Cambridge Public Library wrapup session:

THREE NOTIONS OF COMMUNITY — Joy Mayer, Laurie Norton Moffatt and David Bollier discuss engagement, dialog and the concept of the commons.

THURSDAY AM VIDEO — Find out who was in the room, hear Peter Levine discuss youth and engagement, and Peggy Holman introduce “the law of two feet.”

DAVID WEINBERGER — Knowledge as transitional

AFTERNOON ASPIRATIONS — Find out what participants are coming up with for proposed outcomes.

JOURNALIST-CITIZEN COOPERATION — Linda Fantin and Melody Ng explains the Public Insight Network in this 25-minute video capture of their “Beyond  Books” talk.


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LibrariUS at Cohasset Library

Paul Pratt Memorial is, as far as I know, the first library that has embedded the LibrariUS widget onto its homepage (Thanks, Jackie and Tom!).  I am so excited to hear more about library use and life in Cohasset through what people tell us at the library.

Here’s how you, too, can participate in LibrariUS — the American Library Association, the Public Library Association, and the Public Insight Network at American Public Media’s collaboration to explore community information and other needs through the lens of local libraries:

  1. Put yourself on the map.  Visit the LibrariUS website and tell us what you’re doing at the library today.
  2. Get your library — one you work at or one you use — to participate by bookmarking the LibrariUS site on public computers at the library or by embedding our widget on the library homepage (details below).  We’ll have flyers soon (with QR codes for smartphone users who aren’t at a computer), too.
  3. Invite your friends and librarians to LibrariUS.

Our official launch is tomorrow.  I’ll keep you posted.  Feel free to contact me at mng@americanpublicmedia.org or 651-290-1499 if you have any questions.

Thanks to everyone from BiblioNews who’s helped to put some points on the map in advance!


Widget Instructions
To embed the LibrariUS widget, copy and paste this code into your library’s website source code. The larger widget requires at least 325px of horizontal space; the smaller, 250px.  If you have any questions or difficulties (or need a different sized widget), please contact web developer Than Tibbetts at ttibbetts@americanpublicmedia.org.

325 pixel version
<div><script type=”text/javascript” src=“http://www.publicinsightnetwork.org/librarius/widget/widget.js”></script></div>

250 pixel version
<div id=”alawidget”><script src=“http://www.publicinsightnetwork.org/librarius/widget/widget-250.js”></script></div>

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Three notions of community: Engagement, dialog, commons


At the Beyond Books convening organized by Journalism That Matters at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, April 6, 2011, three short talks by experts on community catalyze roundtable discussions by some 100 participants. Bill Densmore introduces the talks by Joy Mayer, an RJI fellow at the Missouri School of Journalism, on what “engagement” means; Laurie Norton Moffatt of the Norman Rockwell Museum on creating community dialog; and David Bollier, author and consultant, on the new role of “commons” in social structures.

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David Weinberger at “Beyond Books” — what’s the opposite of long-form thought?


What’s the opposite of long-form thought? Is it web-thought. David Weinberger helps catalyze the conversations at “Beyond Books” as he talks about how knowledge is becoming transitional, not fixed in form.

“A web of knowledge based on human interests is a more logical expression of the world than long-form argument,” he says.  The result — the crumbling of institutions such as encyclopedias and newspapers.  “one part of the answer — we re tired of being talked to,” says Weinberger. Also, he says, the world is too big, there is too much to know, and knowledge can no longer be hemmed in.  It is now “always an argument,” rich, curious, open-ended. “We knew that all along and the moment we were able to have a medium that expressed that basic fact, we ran to it.”

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The conversation starts: Best possible outcomes . . . and table talk

As the conversation starts at “Beyond Books” read what 90 folks are saying the best possible outcomes could be of our day-and-a-half-together.

And read what some tables reported they discussed on Wednesday evening.

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