This is the first honest book I read about libraries, and it got me moving down the road to applying for the Timberland board.
Basically, Civic Librarianship got me thinking beyond how I assume most people think of libraries: warehouses full of free reading material. It reconnected me with my earlier career as a reporter, and the similar role that newspapers and libraries serve in communities. How libraries engage in the public discourse, how they help inform the public in vital issues, will be a major part of how libraries grow in the next few decades.
One way I’ve seen Timberland Libraries doing this have been the “Conversation Cafes” hosted at the Elma Timberland Library:
Move from small talk to big talk about big ideas at the Elma Timberland Library’s two inaugural Conversation Cafés, hosted gatherings intended to show people how. Elma library manager and community librarian David Seckman will host the conversations … The first topic will be “What is Happiness?” and the second will be “What is the most important issue for you in this year’s presidential election?” As one might anticipate at a café, coffee, tea and snacks will be provided.
The Elma library’s cafés are modeled on those of a non-profit organization founded by Vicki Robin of Whidbey Island and Susan Partnow of Seattle in order to offer opportunities for people to discuss and think about big issues and foster cooperative communities. The small group conversations are held nationwide in public places such as libraries. Detailed information is at the organization’s Web site. http://www.conversationcafe.org/.