Summarize your conversation using these …

Summarize your conversation using these questions, or whatever questions seem appropriate to you:

1. What meaning did you take from the conversation?

2. Share a standout story or quote for each of you.

3. What surprised, challenged, inspired, and/or delighted you about the conversation?

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Our conversation catalyst began with the pairing of…

Our conversation catalyst began with the pairing of veteran librarian Christina (Tina) Stewart and freelance librarian Nancy Picchi. We have both contributed to this summary.

Tina, who has served as the director of the Wilmington Memorial Library (Wilmington, MA) for the past 15 years, has worked there for over 30 years. Her devotion to both the library and to her community is apparent from the moment she begins to talk about her life and profession. Nancy, who formerly worked at a small public library in New Jersey and has been a public library advocate for over 35 years, shares Tina’s commitment to public libraries and to the vital role they play in the life of the communities they serve.

During our telephoneconversation last week, we were delighted to discover that we share the belief that the public library plays a vital role in promoting the civic, intellectual, and social life of the communities they serve. In addition, we both believe that our communities and libraries need active and accurate local press coverage in order to flourish.

· Nancy formerly worked in two roles (first as the program & public relations coordinator and later as the Internet coordinator) in a public library whose tagline was “located in the heart of our community”; the public library where Tina serves as director is planning to promote its new tagline “community starts here.” Both hope that the Beyond Books confab will provide specific ways to engage the community so that these concepts ring true in the minds of residents who live there.

· Tina pointed out that both voter participation and people running for elected office have declined in her community. She asks us to consider “What is the library’s role in creating a higher level of civic engagement?”

· Nancy emphasized the importance of the library having a strong virtual presence and recommended that the library’s web site have links to a wide range of community and governments services. She feels strongly that libraries should provide the resources and guidance to help community members connect with local, state, and federal government and services.

· Tina’s library and Nancy’s former library both feature well-used local history collections. In Nancy’s former library, journalists for the local newspaper make frequent use of the local history collection and of the local historians and librarians who help organize it. Tina noted that the owner of the local newspaper in her community has agreed to allow the library to digitize retrospective microfilm of the newspaper as well as future years. Tina suggested that “local newspaper publishers need to be amenable to these kinds of agreements, which make local news and history more accessible to members of the community and beyond.”

· Tina noted that “the online ‘Wilmington Patch’ (, which went live in November 2011, has done an excellent job of reporting local news. Since the local print newspaper is a weekly publication, Patch has the advantage of reporting news as it happens. The Social Media coordinator for Wilmington Patch reports that ‘Wilmington has catapulted itself into the 3rd highest ranking in visitors for the entire state.’ Obviously people want to know what is happening in their town and are using online resources.” Tina also pointed out that if online newssites like Patch become the main source of local news coverage, the library may need to provide the computers and the computer skills to ensure that the majority of residents can access online news services such as Patch.

· Nancy indicated that libraries should focus on offering something to their community that no oneelse is offering: “In addition to providing a wide range of print and electronic resources, libraries can remain a vital part of the community by being that central place where people of all ages, educational levels, and political and religious beliefs can meet to share ideas and conversations about a wide range of issues. One way to do this is through book discussion programs that ask all of the members of a community to read and discuss thesame book. Another way to accomplish this is for libraries to offer community-wide courses based on open education resources. I explored this idea in a 2008 paper entitled “One Course, One Community: Engaging Lifelong Learners though a Partnership between Open Education Resources and Public Libraries.”

We look forward to continuing our conversation in person at the Beyond Books conference – and to extending it to include all of you!

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Here are the notes for the pre conference…

Here are the notes for the pre-conference conversation between Liza Barry-Kessler and David Weinberger.

Liza Barry-Kessler
Ph.D. Student
School of Information Studies
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

David’s Answers:
1. Why are you going to this conference?

David writes about the Internet. In 2007, he wrote a book called
Everything is Miscellaneous, about the way that online technology is
changing the way we organize information; that pulled him into the
library world, and he is currently co-director of the Harvard Library
Innovation Lab. He’s also had a long-term interest in what hyperlinks
are doing to the structure of writing; his latest book (“Too Big to
Know,” which comes out this Fall) includes a chapter about the future
of long-form writing. He’s also been a freelance features writer since
the 1970s, and has a practical interest in what the Net is doing to
journalistic forms.

2. An experience about the intersection of journalism and libraries:

Books and news articles have historically been disconnective media — they endeavor to provide all of the information the reader needs within the document, so that the reader doesn’t need to go out of the story. But the Internet makes it incredibly easy to go outside of the story. This challenges the fundamental form of both libraries and news media.

4. A question you hope will be answered at this conference:

In the past, both librarians and journalists have shared values such as the goal of enabling informed democracy, and protecting freedom of speech and opinion. However, as the medium changes, commonality of purpose may no longer be enough to maintain a commonality of practice. Information has become more disintermediated — people have more direct access to information. The role of curation is rapidly changing, and may leave librarians and journalists with less and less in common.

Liza’s Answers

1. Why are you going to this conference?

Liza is a first-year grad student in information policy, with a
concentration in law, ethics, and public policy. In her former life,
she was an attorney who did some work with libraries. She’s not a
librarian but has always been interested in their role as info
providers and protectors of intellectual freedom. Liza is funded
through a fabulous grant that U of Wisc Milwaukee was awarded, and
the opportunity came up go to this conference, also funded in part through
the IMLS Barriers to Access grant, she jumped at the chance.

2. An experience about the intersection of journalism and libraries:

Liza is most interested in looking at the intersection of the two
fields in terms of public access. Libraries value intellectual freedom
and free speech, but are also required by policies and legislation to
install filters on content. Inevitably, the filters catch
controversial topics that are interesting within a public policy
context — not just porn, but LGBT topics, sexual assault, etc. The
restrictions aren’t going away any time soon. How can they be gotten
around? There’s a role for journalists and libraries in that endeavor.

3. Some values and challenges shared by libraries and journalists
have surfaced. How can the relationship between the two serve the
public good?

Journalists and librarians generally have entered their fields with a
traditional idea of how to serve the public good. But the way our
technology and media universes have changed has transformed how both
journalism and librarianship are practiced. Liza doesn’t know how how
those two professional communities will transform themselves, but
there’s still a hunger for access to the information that people need
to govern themselves wisely. Remaining engaged in conversations about
how to achieve those missions is essential to serving the public good.

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Our conversation catalyst matched up a journalist myself…

Our conversation catalyst matched up a journalist (myself) and a librarian, Alexa Pearce, who works at NYU. Both of us feel the need to more deeply understand the other’s profession, although Alexa has had more experience working with journalists than I have with librarians since part of her job is as a liaison with NYU’s journalism school. Her reason for coming to the conference: “I’m trying to understand journalism because I work with people who are becoming journalists.” She added, “I’m struck by the similarities between what we say our challenges are.”

I’m a freelance writer who has been working for an AOL site, DailyFinance, although that job looks like it’s ending given the Huffington Post purchase and a move toward hiring full-time staff in the company’s New York and Dulles, Virginia offices. (I’m based in Burlington, VT.)

Before freelancing, I worked for nine years at Bloomberg News, which had library that tended to be more reactive than proactive. As a freelancer who occasionally writes local news stories for Burlington’s newspapers as well as business articles for DailyFinance, I’ve relied on my own reporting, going directly to sources such as government departments or data trackers such as Nielsen to dig up information. I personally haven’t tapped Burlington’s library sources (our public library and the library at University of Vermont) for data or support, and I haven’t seen indications among reporters/journalists here in Vermont that this exchange is going on.

My mom, a librarian with an MLS, flagged the conference and suggested we attend, as a journalist-daughter and librarian-mother pair. I’m coming with open ears to learn about how the two professions might be able to work together.

Alexa noted that her job is to teach and put journalists’ ideas in context, while a big push in the journalism department is the “journalism of ideas.” The department talks about ideas and concepts, allowing for research to become integral to what journalists do. “We can link information much more easily than we have been able to do. It’s a way of adding value to journalism,” she noted.

While journalists and librarians share some values, there are other ways in which the professions view information differently, Alexa pointed out. “Access to information is probably the biggest piece of that that presents the biggest challenge,” she noted, adding that the conflict between librarians and publishers is similar to the clash that can occur between libraries and journalists. “How do you come up with sustainable models for making information accessible and having an economic backbone?” Alexa pointed out.

I added that the ideas/questions posted on Bibionews of whether libraries are poised to become public-access media centers or could operate a news collective is a fascinating one, but that I feel there are conflicts between what libraries provide and what journalists seek to offer that could throw up barriers to this. Journalists want to provide context and shape the way news is presented, while libraries represent open access to information that’s given without an editorial perspective. This could become a hurdle for the two professions working together on a collective news service.

Librarians are respectful and want to get people from point A to point B on their research, Alexa said. She added that although it’s hard to be neutral in any context, librarians are seeking to be in a neutral place, without any editorial opinion.

Our discussion moved into new ways of providing community news, such as Twitter and local listservs. Both of us agreed that we find Twitter an efficient way to get caught up on what’s going on locally and in the world, although Alexa noted that there are issues with archiving Twitter and making it both easily searchable and organizable. But using libraries as a way to capture ephemeral material that’s published either formally or informally on the Web would be a useful task for libraries, Alexa noted.

I mentioned a local listserv in Vermont called the Front Porch Forum (site is here:, which has been written about by Bill McKibben and was a Knight News Challenge winner. It provides a way for local residents to post issues (robberies, town meetings, voting information, etc.), but it’s slower than Twitter, as it takes a day or two for postings to be emailed to subscribers, and is limited to small neighborhoods. Perhaps libraries could provide a forum allowing residents to post news items, questions or local events on a more timely basis, I suggested.

Both of us agreed that mobilizing readers to contribute to the news has pitfalls, such as the trustworthiness of the contributions. I questioned whether a librarian is an appropriate professional to monitor such a public-access news site, especially if the discussion devolves into dangerous areas such as libelous statements.

As for what we bring to the conference, Alexa noted that she’s curious and engaged, a creative thinker. She is looking forward to some blue-sky discussions where she can contribute, even if it’s removed from what’s realistic at the moment. She’s a good listener. I’m a skeptical and logical thinker, but open minded. I’m hoping to learn about what’s possible for libraries and journalists, and how that could translate to a small-city market like Burlington.

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One key point from the pre convention catalytic…

One key point from the pre-convention catalytic conversation yesterday between Amy Penwell and me: there’s a huge need for folks in the education establishment in general, and journalism and library science in particular, to impart the critical thinking skills that will enable consumers of information to sort out (reliably) the credible from the non-credible. An aside (and this comes from me, not from the conversation with Amy): I’ve just finished with the Lucas Cioffi video, and my conception of what journalism (even the ”reinvented journalism” — whatever that turns out to be) can and should be/do is about 180 degrees different from his. I look forward to exploring that difference of opinion nin Cambridge. (No time for more just now, and I’m just enough of Luddite that I much prefer direct to online conversations, anyway.)

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Louis Battlen is a librarian who has an…

Louis Battlen is a librarian who has an idea for a bookmobile in neighborhoods. He is also a free-lance writer from Ashfield, MA, two hours from Boston. He is looking for creative work while he is living in rural MA. He raises sheep and chickenson his farm. He seems to be passionate about a meaningful life: libraries, children and communities. He is very curious about JTM and is looking forward to meetimg JTMers.

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Hello All As one of the minor instigators…

Hello All,
As one of the (minor) instigators of this event, I’m looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible in Cambridge.

My Conversation Catalyst partner is Mike Kittross, aka J. Michael Kittross, who began his career as a radio journalist a very long time ago. I began my career in public relations about half as long ago, and began working in libraries about half of the intervening years.

Our initial conversation lasted a good two hours, as did the second; the third was shorter as we both had deadlines to meet. Suffice it to say, we found many things to talk about, many similarities, a difference or two, and a shared enthusiasm for continuing to discuss issues of libraries and journalism, among many other topics.

Beyond journalism–he’s the editor of Media Ethics magazine–Mike has a daunting resume in academic posts, military service, and passionate interests in film, television, libraries, and more.

Surprisingly, we live about three miles apart, in Seattle. Even more surprising is the highly unlikely fact that both of us have our very own ”Valhalla Vikings, Gasoline of the Gods” faux credit cards, relics of a 1950s radio promotion attributed to advertising comic Stan Freberg. Anyone else with such a card is invited to bring it to the conference for comparison and general levity.

Both Mike and I are coming to BiblioNews because we want to have a voice in the discussion, and to bring our varied experiences together with the rest of this innovative group to see what happens.

We share the belief that there is far too much ”information” and too little critical evaluation and ”understanding” these days; we both have a common hope that by collaborating, libraries and journalism can raise the quality of ”understanding” through engaged, active civic discourse.

Mike loves books–and would love to see libraries devise ”global book clubs.”

My particular aspirations are:
– Finding willing advisers to help me refine an online newsroom for information research

– Developing a basic model for libraries and journalists about how to organize and conduct civil discussions about civics, information literacy, political issues, and fact-checking between now and the 2012 General Election.

All ideas, comments, and interesting stories are most welcome, in person or online.

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We are Jackie Rafferty director of the Paul…

We are Jackie Rafferty, director of the Paul Pratt Memorial Library in Cohasset, MA, president of the Massachusetts Library Association (MLA), MA chapter councilor to the American Library Association (ALA), and a member of ALA’s Presidential Taskforce on Equitable Access to Electronic Content; and Eugenia Williamson, a staff writer at the Boston Phoenix who frequently reports on the publishing industry.

We shared two lengthy phone conversations and a few emails about the impact of electronic media on libraries and the demise of investigative journalism.

Jackie told Eugenia that e-content has become increasingly inaccessible to libraries. Publishers use digital rights management (DRM) to limit libraries’ use of electronic materials and refuse to support library resource sharing.

Further, reduced library funding threatens their – and, by extension, the public’s – access to information. Digital publications proliferate, and print publications are rapidly becoming digitized. Jackie says: “The rapid proliferation of electronic content (e-content), combined with library inaccessibility to e-content, is undermining the historic library missions of providing equitable access to information for all people and of preserving the recorded history of humankind for future generations.” (visit to learn more)

Technology has also given rise to new communications paradigms such as self-publishing and citizen journalism. Jackie wonders what librarians and journalists can do to support responsible citizen journalism that incorporates both research and fact checking. She sees an opportunity for transparency in citizen eye-witness reporting, but worries that citizen journalists have inadequate means of proving the veracity of their reporting. She also worries that sound bytes, devoid of facts, perpetuate false information.

Says Eugenia, “Though I’m an arts reporter, I see my colleagues working hard and delivering important investigative journalism all the darn time. In my hometown of Chicago, the alt-weekly there (the Chicago Reader) laid off a number of its investigative journalists. There’s a tremendous article about this in the Columbia Journalism Review here:”

Jackie and Eugenia agree that the demise of (professional) investigative reporting and journalism can have extremely negative effects on society. Jackie wonders what libraries can do to stop this decline without losing their role as neutral purveyors of information.

Neither of us can wait to attend the conference!

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April 3 2011 Preliminary conversation between Alpha DeLap…

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.

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Bibliobooks blog post Summarize your conversation using these…

Bibliobooks blog post

Summarize your conversation using these questions, or whatever questions seem
appropriate to you:
1. What meaning did you take from the conversation?
2. Share a standout story or quote for each of you.
3. What surprised, challenged, inspired, and/or delighted you about the

Jacob Caggiano and Jack Brighton mashed up this blog post from several email
exchanges and a long phone conversation. We felt it would flow better as a jointly
authored piece, or at least give us a chance to speak more clearly. Peggy’s questions
provide a helpful framework, so we’ll go ahead and hang our answers on them…so
to speak.

1. What meaning did you take from the conversation?

We began the conversation by discussing the idea that journalism has arrived at a
transitional moment. Jacob started describing what is obvious to him: the shift from
one-to-many media, to a many-to-many system. “Basically I’m part of this hybrid
generation, where I grew up with old media, then transitioned to new media while
becoming an adult,” said Jacob. “When I was 13, AOL was really popular, and I was
connecting with people across the universe. The premise is that we’re not just a
one-way or two-way medium, but a multifaceted system where anyone can be a
publisher, or a celebrity, and the barriers of entry have been reduced and there’s no
gatekeeper.” I think Jacob is in that perfect spot to understand the previous media
system, without being locked into its habits of thought. This could be an advantage
for him over the kids I see going through J School who have no concept of a pre-
Internet world. But that’s a big topic for another time.

Jack began his journalism career in 1987 as a public radio producer and host. “So
before Mosaic, before Gopher, and before the Newsgroups if you remember what
I’m talking about. Radio, TV, and newspapers were it,” he said. “When the web
came along, I was lacking in whatever brain chemical induces people to freak out
about change. I loved the complete feeling of freedom it gave people to express
themselves in ways they never could, to engage in conversations without barriers
or gatekeepers, and to tell stories to a growing global audience.” So while the idea
of many-to-many media appealed to Jack from the get-go, we both reflected on how
difficult this shift is for so many people.

We also discussed the trade-offs we’re all experiencing as we use the array of social
media tools, e.g. connectivity versus privacy. When we push those little ‘like’ buttons
we now find all over the web, we’re helping Facebook know more and more about

us in the aggregate, but for us that information quickly disappears below the fold of
our status page. We’re uploading our social media content (pictures, video) to the
cloud, but who owns the cloud and where does our stuff go? Will our content persist
and be findable in the future? We should think about these things, even though we

We found ourselves in agreement that this moment of transition has some great
opportunities, but we need to address some of the pitfalls and no one has perfect
answers yet to issues like privacy, security, and openness.

2. Share a standout story or quote for each of you.

Jacob: “I’ve been very interested in broadening the definition of who is a journalist,
but does that restrict you from having an opinion? It seems like people are starting
to accept that there’s no such thing as objectivity, and that pretending to be
objective is really hiding your point of view. Have a point of view but have it with

Jack: “The tension is between reporting and advocacy or activism. I’ve arrived at
a place where think much of this concern is exaggerated. Historically, journalism
made a difference: if you reported on corruption, unfair laws, or problems within
communities, things changed. For most of its history professional journalism had
a real impact. Of course this can go too far, and there is such a thing as becoming
a political partisan. I think a journalist can take a stance for objectivity while still
arriving at clear and reasonable judgments. But in recent decades the profession
has adopted a notion of objectivity which suspends all possibility of judgment. The
result is a sort of blind and bland stenography that supplies facts but no impact.
Then we wonder why people don’t pay attention.”

Jacob: “I think everybody coming to this conference agrees that there’s a great
match between journalists and librarians. A journalist has to be ready to go report
on the fly, where as a librarian is engaged in more long-term organization. Let
journalists be the storyteller, and librarians be the organizer and archivist. Sort of
like Batman and Albert…though I don’t want to restrict roles, I like the dynamic
between the two, where one handles the tech and maintains the headquarters,
and the other hits the streets and interfaces with the public.”

“I would like to see citizens comfortable know that if there is a story worth telling
they can tell it. And if there’s a story worth finding, they can find it. And it would
be up to them to decide if they want to do these things. My vision, there would be
standards for storing, classifying, and cataloging information as it’s published. The
mission is straightforward, it’s a matter of ironing out the kinks on the technology
side, and then funding and support from the community, and participation.”

Jack: “The center-margin structure of the familiar media system is way too slow

for the Internet age. Like it or not, we now have a many-to-many media system and
everyone can play a part. What is the role of the “traditional” media organization
employing professional journalists? We have not answered this question very well
as yet, but have instead dug in our heels and refused to recognize how technology
has added new dimensions to the media universe. And we’re no longer at the center.
“I think journalism by 2016 must be deeply engaged in community conversations
to truly understand what issues and concerns need to be addressed, and by
whom. In 2016, citizens will play the largest part in telling the stories of their own
communities, histories, and interests. Established media entities will facilitate a
conversation about civic life that has a positive impact where it needs to. The result
is we build knowledge upon knowledge that everyone can successfully use. Libraries
and librarians will be integrated with journalism at the DNA level, and we will no
longer think of them as foreign territories. IT will be part of this model as well.”

3. What surprised, challenged, inspired, and/or delighted you about the

Jack: “It didn’t really surprise me to find that Jacob is a smart, focused person who
thinks about these issues on a daily basis. It does inspire me that while he’s working
several jobs doing journalism and media production, he’s also participating in
Journalism That Matters and every other opportunity to meet with other people
trying to find the way forward. Jacob mentioned the phrase “public space” several
times, and it’s clear that he is committed to the idea of the public sphere. I think
many of us are likewise committed, but we don’t speak out about it enough in
conversation and professional practice. Jacob impressed me greatly in speaking to
the role of journalists and librarians in the public sphere.”

Jacob: “Jack told me that although he’s a bit older, he doesn’t feel like an old timer. I love interacting with media veterans like him who are embracing the rapid changes and are here to help usher the younger generations along. I’m also grateful that he’s put so much thought and energy into handling the massively complex task of standardizing the archiving process with his work on the PBCore system. One thing I mentioned to him was my utmost respect for people like him who are getting their hands dirty with the heavy tech that the rest of us consider too dry or complicated to deal with. I can’t wait to meet him and the others in person, I just wish we had more time!”

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