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  • Jamie Helgren 3:04 pm on April 4, 2011 Permalink  

    Anne Raci, an MLIS student at Dominican University, majored in journalism as an undergrad and worked as assistant editor at a daily paper outside Chicago after graduating. She is now the database coordinator at American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Her search for classes that would help her with the technical side of her job led her to the MLIS program, and there she has found “the perfect fit” for what she values and hopes to do in her professional work.

    My name is Jamie Helgren and I am in my final quarter of the MLIS program at the University of Denver. I work as a research fellow at Library Research Service, a unit of the Colorado State Library, where I have enjoyed the opportunity to incorporate some of my undergraduate journalism experience in researching and reporting relevant information to librarians in the field. I hope to pursue this combination of my professional interests throughout my career, as I continually notice the similarities between journalists’ and librarians’ work.

    Anne and I are in similar positions as MLIS students with backgrounds in journalism, and we are both approaching the BiblioNews gathering curious to hear what everyone is saying and/or doing about collaboration between libraries and news organizations. We agree that such a partnership has potential and are eager to know how conference attendees visualize it. Both of us are full of questions rather than possible solutions, and wonder if the collaboration that others envision might simply involve journalists using the library for research and news sources, or the library becoming a publisher of community news?

    As we discussed how this partnership might look five years from now, our thoughts turned toward communities’ perceptions of blending the library and the newspaper. Would either be taken as seriously, or valued as much? How might the reputation of either change as a result? How can we prove to communities that this is a valuable partnership? How can we create a structure and framework now that will be sustainable on a large scale in the long-term?

    This conference seems to offer the opportunity for people with both big ideas and specific goals to plan how to make this work, but with so many people from different backgrounds involved, it could be a challenge to get everyone focused enough to move from brainstorming to creating an action plan. Anne hopes to leave the event not merely thinking that it was an interesting conversation, but with measurable steps she can take to act on any decisions made. I am excited to make connections with people who have similar goals and interests; as I am just beginning my professional career, I am in a position to devote time and energy to these efforts, and hope to meet people at BiblioNews who are ready to start implementing their ideas and need help!

  • Bill Densmore 1:55 pm on April 4, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: community, literacy, , storycorps, youth   

    Mary Chute, IMLS deputy director and Denise McIver, IMLS scholar and St. John’s Univ. student 

    (POSTED BY BILL DENSMORE on behalf of Mary Chute)

    A Conversation between:

    Mary Chute, Deputy Director for Libraries, Institute of Museum and Library Services and
    Denise L. Mc Iver, IMLS Scholar and MLIS Student, St. John’s University

    “When a community loses its memory, its members no longer know one another. How can they know one another if they have forgotten or have never learned one another’s stories? If they do not know one another’s stories, how can they know whether or not to trust one another? People who do not trust one another do not help one another, and moreover they fear one another. And this is our predicament now.”

    –Wendell Berry, “The Work of Local Culture”

    A bit about our respective backgrounds:

    Mary has a wealth of experience as a professional librarian – she’s been with the IMLS for nearly a decade where she is tasked with responding to the needs of the library and museum community, and facilitating partnerships and initiatives with other Federal agencies such as workforce development with the Department of Labor. Mary has been both a State Librarian as well as a Library Consultant. She understands that librarians in all environments “have the power to empower other people – to enhance their lives in profound ways”.

    Prior to entering the Special Libraries/MLIS Program at St. John’s University in 2009, Denise has been involved in the entertainment industry and has worked in story development for CBS Entertainment, in television production, and more recently as a publicist in the music industry. She is also a journalist and writer whose feature-length articles have appeared in consumer and trade magazines. In 2002, Random House published her non-fiction book Droppin’ Science: Straight Up Talk from Hip Hop’s Greatest Voices.

    We both felt that the questions Bill provided offered us the opportunity to explore how we see our work, and how we hope to contribute to the conference. Denise felt that there is a need to dispel the fear that appears to be shaping our lives and especially today’s political discourse which is why Mary shared the quote from Wendell Barry which is noted above. We felt Berry’s quote was relevant to our conversation because we both sense that as a society, we’ve become so fragmented and we have somehow lost the ability to connect and share our experiences. What if instead of using the media to provoke fear that we used it to create shared experiences?

    We both agreed that it was critically important, now more than ever, that community members share their stories, and we’d like to see how storytelling can be used as a bridge to understanding. Mary briefly described how the IMLS did a partnership with David Isak’s StoryCorps that in 2010 provided the winning institutions of IMLS’ National Medals for Museum and Library Services with a StoryCorps community visit. During these visits not only were stories of the power of the institutions captured, but staff members had the opportunity to observe and engage in the process of capturing oral history episodes.

    It’s seems intuitive that the more we know about each other, the more we understand our commonalities, and the more cohesive and inclusive a community will be.
    What we hope to bring and take away …

    Mary and I both agree that Beyond Books will offer ample opportunity to develop actionable strategies to create an agenda which can make a true impact upon the lives of our community members. It is important to engage our communities, to encourage critical-thinking, and to offer more than “one-note” political discourse. Access to the information and to the expression and exchange of a wide-range of ideas allows for community empowerment.

    “I would like to see that all voices have a place, and we work to encourage a desire to understand; that we use our skills and knowledge to build trust between individuals and other members of their communities,” said Mary.

    We shared a great belief in the tremendous potential in today’s youth. Denise he expressed her eager anticipation with regards to her current educational program and her commitment to the role librarians can play in helping those most at risk explore, develop critical thinking skills, and self define. She added: “As one of the greatest countries in the world, I believe that ‘to much is given, much is required’. And, as a new librarian interested in issues of social justice, I’d like to use my skills to encourage the exchange of personal storytelling. I believe that when we share our stories, another thread is sewn into the fabric of our communities.”

    Using the StoryCorps “model,” one idea that emerged from our conversation is to train community members in production where they interview and curate stories from the life experiences of other members of their community. The pairings could be intergenerational (e.g., a young Latina with a senior citizen) or interracial (e.g., an African-American/Latino or White/African-American). The idea is to create a “mash-up” honoring our diversity and our humanity.

  • Jordan Eschler 5:02 am on April 4, 2011 Permalink  

    Debbie and I connected over e-mail; she has a full calendar of conferences leading up to the confab. However, we found a lot of common ground in tackling our questions!

    Our hopes for outcomes of the confab related to our backgrounds and work
    Debbie: I have been focusing on community engagement in my studies. In my work, I am a library director in a small academic library. I see that libraries are changing dramatically as journalism, banks, higher education, etc all are. Both journalist and librarians are format neutral. I want to come away with ideas that we can work together to adapt to the needs of the future for our communities. Both librarians and journalists are concerned with researching, evaluating and distilling information. It would be a dramatic loss if we lost that.
    Jordan: Our research at UW related to public access computer use and training in libraries encompasses the consumption of local news stories as a component of civic engagement. In my own research, I am also using Bonnie Nardi’s framework of the public library as an “information ecology,” meaning the richness of information exchange in the library is facilitated by its space, people and resources. With regard to these research areas, I would like to take away a better understanding of the consumption of news within libraries and how librarians can help citizens to inform themselves. Furthermore, I am interested in the role library digital literacy programs and public access computing can have on participation in and creation of citizen journalism, testimonials, and impact statements related to local issues.

    What is the common ground between journalism and librarianship?
    Debbie: Both groups provide information to the community and have similar values. Both have interests in collaborating with, disseminating and evaluating information that comes from the government.
    Jordan: The US Impact survey work in libraries, conducted by UW and funded by the Gates Foundation, indicates that finding information on local issues can be a primary goal of the public computer user. In addition, libraries as a space lead to interactions among people from all walks of life; for this reason, the library can be powerful venue for storytelling and assessment of on-the-ground community needs.

    How can journalists and librarians serve the common good?
    Debbie: I was at a conference a few years ago between journalists and computer scientists at Georgia Tech. The computer scientists were trying to figure out what was going on with journalist so they could do it themselves. It was not a collaborative situation. I would like to see this group of people to work for the ultimate goal of engaging community and providing quality information.
    Jordan: I see a body of knowledge journalists have that can be critical to literacy in the digital age; libraries already work to promote digital literacy (e.g., how to work a mouse, start a session on the computer, and perhaps formulate a resume from scratch) but a deeper level of engagement with current events and online documents requires the ability to discern legitimacy of sources once they are found. Journalists can navigate information sources in this manner; their ability to verify sources and data are complimentary to that of librarians, who are experts at meeting informational needs.

    What we bring to the confab
    Debbie: I find that I can find the good things and make them better by looking at them a different way. I think about the future realistically. I feel I have a better than average understanding of the point of view of people at different generations. I have a talent for seeing people strengths of people and helping to work on those talents. I hope that we find a way to connect groups together to encourage journalism to flourish.
    Jordan: Meeting information needs in a humanistic way is my top priority. Like a librarian, who must determine what a patron’s real information need is, I assess problems by probing users’ suggested solutions (i.e., technology users and information seekers generally speak in solutions rather than problems). For this reason, I try to be a good listener, and to understand the motivations of those I am trying to help without judgment. In attending a conference with both journalists and librarians, I hope to connect the points of strength each profession offers and to formulate an idea of the challenges each faces to perhaps contribute solutions or collaborations that may be mutually beneficial.

    Our vision for libraries in 2016
    Debbie: Community member, governmental officials and journalists create news online through things like blogs. Libraries and e-government will collaborate to provide information. Citizen journalists will provide information. Journalists will provide current information, editing and provide special issue reporting. Libraries will provide sites and equipment for citizens to create multimedia information. Libraries would also provide training and forums for communities.
    Jordan: Libraries will offer information portals, possibly on their home pages, where individuals can seek community information. Local news items and issues will link to options for getting citizens more involved in civic life, including discussions led by journalists or local leaders, perhaps hosted at the library. The library and/or local news outlet – or even an independent journalism advocate, such as – will offer multimedia presentations with in-depth testimonials. At a conference just today – SeaChange UW ’11 – an anthropologist who studies communities in crisis after natural or industrial disasters commented during a group discussion that, with the collapse of print & local media, most primary sources are now government and industry officials. We need more statements, more input, from regular people related to local issues to give a more holistic view of impacts and needed actions – libraries may be a great venue to educate people about their voices in the community, and a place to learn how to contribute and act on local issues.

  • Melody Ng 5:25 pm on March 30, 2011 Permalink  

    Anna Lisa Raya Rivera Anna former magazine editor… 

    Anna Lisa Raya Rivera (Anna) — former magazine editor and Columbia journalism school grad, current Rutgers library and info sci grad student, and future conference roommate of mine — got to know each other a bit over the phone yesterday.

    BiblioNews seems to be a perfect fit for Anna, as it brings together her past, present and future — after graduation, she hopes to advance information literacy, especially in underserved communities, through designing products such as search engines. She’s also intrigued by how actively conference goers get to participate in determining what’s going to happen next week. This will be good for her, because she’s a highly collaborative, open source-adocating, go-getting doer.

    Anna’s journalism background, and especially her deep experience with fact checking (One of Anna’s previous jobs was editing at “People.” Can you imagine how difficult it must be to substantiate the material that gets published in “People”? And at how fast it’d have to get done, too!), are serving her well now in her new career. She expected everything she touched in print to be absolutely true and perfectly written. Now, she wonders how untrained people know how to wade through the flood of information out there on the Internet to find the good stuff. And she gets great satisfaction from helping with these searches.

    I come to the library-journalism connection from a different perspective. My experience with libraries is only as a user, a user who’s always loved libraries — bc I love reading, and old books, and also because I love that we live in a country where people can borrow books for free, basically on the honor system that they’ll return them.

    In my work as a journalist, my colleagues and I have, for years, thought of libraries as one of the perfect places to recruit new news sources. We believe everyone has knowledge and expertise that could inform news coverage, and we try to get more people involved in our news process through the Public Insight Network ( — over 100,000 people across the nation who have agreed to let us ask them questions about topics we’re reporting on.

    We know library patrons are diverse (in all ways), and have admired the strong relationships libraries have built with their communities and users. So we’ve wanted to work with librarians to find ways to offer patrons a voice in the media. I couldn’t ask for a better conference than this one for inspiration.

    It’s a bit difficult to summarize our conversation because Anna and I discussed many things, a bunch that didn’t relate to the BiblioNews — like that her high school was near my grandmother’s apartment in LA. But the standout quote is easy: “I’m kind of a hardcore Latina.”

    And Anna’s conclusion from her example of where she’s observed journalism and libraries coming together will stay with me because it’s one of the core beliefs behind my team’s work: So many people have stories, but we won’t know them without asking.

  • David Bollier 7:51 pm on March 29, 2011 Permalink  

    Dorothy Jean Carner, head of the U. of Missouri Journalism Library, and I spoke today about our shared interests in the upcoming conference. She noted her deep concern over the preservation of digital content — news, photos, audio, multimedia — which commercial newspaper owners often don’t care about, yet the community does and posterity will. So how to get these interests in alignment? Dorothy mentioned how some libraries are experimenting with the LOCKSS system, “Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe,” which distributes content to multiple nodes to ensure its preservation in an efficient way.

    Dorothy also expressed concern that librarians have a different approach to community engagement than journalists; libraries are neutral providers of information, while journalists tend to have a point of view and be more proactive.

    I share Dorothy’s concerns about unmet public needs. I think there are LOTS of public interest concerns that are not being well-served by contemporary news organizations (because they are not seen as profitable or profitable enough) which might be well-served by a tech platform and bottom-up revenue model. What the market considers financially unattractive, a community-managed commons might consider entirely feasible, drawing upon the volunteer participation, in-kind community support (the schools, local businesses, etc.) and through innovative revenue models that together support a shared tech platform. The idea would be to federate many (unmet) public interests….for serious journalism, for archival preservation of a community’s history…. for a public square to discuss issues of the day…. for a community-owned “Craigslist”…. for servicing the info needs of public schools; etc., etc., onto one tech platform with a new institutional form, perhaps drawing upon the best of what libraries and newspapers have been historically, but pointing in new directions.

    We both agreed that young people, especially the “digital natives,” may have some imaginative new ideas for bring to the table. And we both agreed, also, that the conference should be a provocative meeting of minds that hopefully will suggest some constructive new directions.

  • Jeanine FInn 7:30 pm on March 29, 2011 Permalink  

    Karen Gill from the Newport News Public Library System and I (Jeanine Finn from the School of Information at UT Austin) had a great conversation this morning.

    There are many shared values between journalists and librarians — both are positioned within their communities as trusted sources of information and are dedicated to informing citizens.

    We share some challenges, for example, Karen noted, “Librarians and journalists are both challenged by prioritizing the need to provide entertainment that will draw the public while also providing information to create an informed citizenry that is able to uphold the American ideal of democracy. The question of ‘Do we give them what they want or what they need?’ and/or ‘How do we do both?'”

    Some of our differences include our approaches to balancing timlieness and credibility. For example, librarians are interested in providing the most thorough and accurate information from the most credible source. While journalists are also interested in this, they often are operating under intense deadline pressure that doesn’t allow complete perfection but rather must go with the best they can get to meet their deadlines. How can we learn from each other’s modes of operating to balance the best of both approaches?

    I shared some of my experience with Radical Reference — a librarian collective (the “radical” describes the novelty of our approach rather than the politics) that supports the work of independent journalists and researchers.

    Karen shared some of what she learned from writing her master’s thesis on the relationship between civic engagement and newspaper readership — very relevant to our future conversations I think.

    What surprised me? I am pleasantly surprised by the optimism of journalists about their role in educating citizenry. In my opinion, we in the library world often wind up being somewhat “behind the scenes” in our communities. I think parternship with journalists would be useful in helping more of us take a more pro-active view.

  • Peggy Holman 1:57 am on March 25, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , JTM, reflections   

    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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