Thursday, March 10, 2011

Beyond Books - News, Literacy, Democracy, and America's Libraries - MIT - 6-7 Apr 2011

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.

But How? The capability of newspapers to provide community information is
declining. Library budgets are under challenge. At the same time, informal
sources of local information are rapidly increasing.

On Wednesday and Thursday, April 6 and 7, 2011, Journalism That Matters,
LLAMA, 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, the Donald W. Reynolds
Journalism Institute and the Cambridge Public Library invite you to join in
a work session for civic information transparency that builds from and
beyond books.

Our intention is to assess shared purpose -- and now shared channels and
technologies -- among librarians and journalists to promote civic engagement
and open access to information. More and more, libraries are becoming
"community information centers" -- an evolution broadly supported in the
recommendations of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of

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

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?"

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
* Must free speech be absolute within a taxpayer-supported
* How do we define the boundaries between engagement and
* 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


If you are a graduate student in library or information science, a
technologist or journalist with relevant experience to our purpose, you may
apply for a travel/lodging stipend. Stipend awards will be made based on
need around March 15. To apply, register now and choose the "request
stipend" option.


Among our growing list of collaborators are(alpha order): Joe Bergantino
(New England Center for Investigative Reporting), Jessica Durkin (New
America Foundation fellow), Mike Fancher (RJI / Seattle Times-retired),
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), Patrick Phillips (Vineyard Voice),
Josh Stearns (, Colin Rhinesmith (Univ. of Illinois) and Bill
Densmore, (New England News Forum/Media Giraffe Project/Reynolds Journalism


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

Bill Densmore, director/editor
The Media Giraffe Project / Journalism Program
108 Bartlett Hall / Univ. of Massachusetts
Amherst MA 01003
OFF: 413-577-4370 / CELL: 413-458-8001

Group home for Newswire - Steven Clift's Democracies Online Newswire:

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