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Jump to: navigation, search -- Beyond Books: News, Literacy and Democracy in America's Libraries

Boston, April 6-7, 2010 at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media

A one-and-one-half day convening (Wed. afternoon/evening, all day Thursday) preceeding the National Conference for Media Reform (Fri-Sun) in Boston. Location: Cambridge, Mass., at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, Bartos Theatre and Building E15 Lower Atrium .


Journalism That Matters, the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, the American Library Association, the Media Giraffe Project and the New England News Forum.


To develop the concept of libraries as community information centers beyond books and facilitating citizen journalism. Librarians want to expand public access to accurate information, particularly local news. So do journalists. Each is facing diminishing resources.

How can libraries, educational institutions and reporters/editors collaborate using the web to foster the values, principles and purposes of journalism?


(First two bullets excerpted from an Oct. 3, 2010 Associated Press story available at the USAToday website.)

  • The latest national data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services show that library visits and circulation climbed nearly 20% from 1999 to 2008. Since then, experts say, technology has continued to drive in-person visits, circulation and usage.
  • Now, the digital sphere is expanding: 82% of America's more than 16,000 public libraries have Wi-Fi up from 37% four years ago, according to the American Library Association. A growing number of libraries are launching mobile websites and smart-phone applications.
  • In Oakland, Calif., the legal daily newspaper partnered with the city and the West Oakland Public Library to install a community-news center. PDF-DOWNLOAD BACKGROUNDER
  • The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation is backing initiatives to improve information access via libraries. The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities includes a specific recommendation about libraries and makes repeated references to them.


Collaborators so far: Andrew Whitacre and Lorrie LeJeune (MIT C4FCM), Fabrice Florin (NewsTrust), Marsha Iverson (ALA board and King County libraries), Library Leadership & Management Assn. (LLMA); Leigh Montgomery (Christian Science Monitor librarian); Patrick Phillips (Vineyard Voice), Joe Bergantino (New England Center for Investigative Reporting); Bill Densmore, (New England News Forum/Media Giraffe Project).


Wednesday -- Convene for afternoon networking session about 3 p.m. on Wed., April 6. Buffet supper at MIT, then an evening panel/program. Thursday -- Continental breakfast at 8:30 a.m.; program start at 9 a.m., run through 5 p.m. with snack breaks and box lunch. Birds-of-a-feather Dutch Treat (you pay) dinner arrangements facilitated.


  • Wed/Thurs. -- $75.00
  • Thurs. no lunch -- $45.00
  • Thurs. inc. lunch -- $60.00

Inclusive registration with Free Press

(includes Wed.-Sunday)

  • Through Jan. 14: $175.00. (we pay FP $100)
  • After Jan. 14: $225.00 (we pay FP $150)


"The Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) at the ALA Washington Office is working on a policy brief on the evolving newspaper industry and the implications for libraries. In a number of communities, the ability of newspapers to provide local community information is declining. At the same time, informal sources of local information are rapidly increasing. What are libraries doing to foster improved access to community information in the context of these changes?"

ALA-cited issues:

  • Empowering patrons to create their own news and media at the grassroots level. Such endeavors might include enhancing patrons’ skills in creating do-it-yourself forms of media using technology tools and resources available at the library
  • Generating news-like content via community documentation projects hosted at a library
  • Partnering with other like-minded organizations to create news collectives, non-profits, or citizen journalism projects




(Atrium is bigger than photo suggests)