PLA knows its members and their libraries may be struggling to respond to the post-election challenges our communities face. We’d like to invite you to share examples in this discussion of how your library has responded or how it plans to respond in the future. I hope this discussion will provide you with additional tools and resources to help bring your community together and support conversations and action that further understanding.
Greetings, all, from the epicenter of this big change--the District of Columbia. Thanks to Felton for getting this conversation started. Here at DCPL, we're trying to focus on the local impact of the election, since we are not just the Federal government here and my staff are nervous about the infusion of new residents who are sure to move here to work for the new administration.
Here are things we're planning to work on in the next few months:
In addition, I'll be leading a conversation with the branch managers next week about this article: http://www.slj.com/2016/08/opinion/libraries-are-not-neutral-opinion/. My hope is to make sure the managers are thinking critically about our role and how they guide their staff around this issue. We also have a staff online discussion group (called The Watercooler) and staff have been discussing their role in this, like book displays.
Lastly, I sent an email to all Public Services staff a few weeks ago. If you'd like to see it, I posted it on my blog: https://shorrthing.com/2016/11/21/a-note-about-the-election/
Skokie is a very diverse community of approximately 65,000 residents, over 40% of whom are foreign-born. Because of this, it was and still is important for us to send a message to our community that everyone is welcome in the library and that we seek to be a safe place for all. We communicated this message through a blog post promoted on our website and social media channels, large posters placed at both of our main entrances declaring "Everyone is welcome," and staff simply smiling and greeting people in the library and in the community.
Staff also encouraged open conversation about relevant, timely topics in the news through the use of our pop-up Civic Lab. One recent pop-up installation focused on creating dialogue about Standing Rock, North Dakota and the protest of the Dakota Access pipeline.
We also held a thought-provoking discussion about "What Every American Should Know," working alongside the Aspen Institute's Citizenship and American Identity Program. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky was one of the panelists who shared their thoughts centered on civic and cultural literacy. Though the event was planned before the election, the timing worked out well as attendees clearly had an interest in sharing their thoughts and hearing from others in the community.
To help us move forward and plan what else we can do for our community at this time, we have held discussions basically intended to give staff space to share their reactions, specifically focusing on how the library can respond to the current climate. Thoughts of promoting literacy of all types (e.g., civic, media, news), helping community members understand and engage more in the civic process, educating people about "fake news," and conducting further EDI-related training (i.e., equity, diversity, inclusion) for both staff and patrons are among topics that have come up in these discussions.
Lastly, I'll mention an ongoing program series called "Coming Together in Skokie," which is planned each year with various community partners including our local village, school districts, community college, libraries in the township, and other members of the community. Like other initiatives we pursue, this program series is intended to invite community members to engage with one another through exploration of a particular culture.
There's more, but I think this gives an idea of how we've responded and what we're planning. Please get in touch if you'd like to learn more about any of this. I'm eager to read about what other libraries are doing for their communities!
Director, Skokie Public Library
Great to see this discussion started and pleased to see the work of Skokie and DC. At Denver, we have done a couple things to date. We created and posted the attached sign at all our locations a couple days after the election. I have written several all staff emails and intranet blog posts reaffirming our library values, the importance of our work and acknowledging the stress and emotions staff and the community are grappling with.
We posted this statement on our web site and the Denver Post published this op-ed piece I wrote.
Our Manager of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs is providing timely information to keep the staff updated on ways to provide accurate information to those populations.
And we're discussing how civic programs can be incorporated more into our various program streams.
Look forward to seeing other responses. And happy to answer any questions or provide more information.
Follow library leaders,
The New York Public Library invites you to join social media movement to highlight the power of reading and readers as we start the new year. Of course the election has capped off a politically charged year. Like many of you have already expressed at your libraries, at NYPL, it highlighted how important it is to share ideas and information freely. It also reminded us that reading builds knowledge, understanding and empathy. We want to join with as many libraries and similar organizations as possible across the country and beyond to inspire readers everywhere to share the books they're currently reading with others in the first weeks of January.
We are working our various channels to help this go viral. If you want to participate:
Starting January 3, 2017, please ask your social media followers to post the book they're reading to Facebook, Twitter, and their other social media platforms. Please encourage them to use the hashtag #ReadersUnite in your posts. Selected posts will be shared by NYPL and we encourage you to do the same.
Sample #ReadersUnite posts:
Tell us what you're reading and include hashtag #ReadersUnite in your posts!
Show us what you're reading this January and include hashtag #ReadersUnite in your posts!
Share a pic of your current book with other readers across the country - use hashtag #ReadersUnite!
Our [staff member] is reading [book title] because [reason] #ReadersUnite
If you plan to participate, please email email@example.com now and after you post on January 3. Thank you for helping to spread the love of reading.
Right after the election, it seemed that the proliferation of fake news stories became even more overwhelming than it had before the election. Palo Alto City Library looked for an immediate response to provide information and education to the public via our website and e-mailed newsletters, and did so in Fake News.
Our "response" also has to do with our preparation: we already had a New Americans webpage, including classes for all types of newcomers to Palo Alto. (With thanks to Queens PL for showing us the way on that project - along with our heavy borrowing!) The topics discussed in this group led us to partner on a program featuring six young DREAMers that was part of a larger program.
Finally, for now, our staff is continuing to build programs that will educate our diverse audience, some using Harwood methods, to hold conversations that community indicates are needed. Overall, the message we've heard is that even here, "newcomers" aren't made to feel welcome, and PACL is stressing that this is the place in the community where everyone belongs.
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