“Beyond Books: News, Literacy, Democracy and America’s Libraries” - prior to National Conference for Media Reform

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Fri, 02/11/2011 - 23:39.
04/06/2011 - 15:00
04/07/2011 - 17:39

BiblioNews: Common purpose for journalists and librarians


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. How?



The capability of newspapers to provide community information is declining. At the same time, informal sources of local information are rapidly increasing.

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 information?

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?”

On Wednesday and Thursday, April 6 and 7, 2011, Journalism That Matters,  (the American Library Association,) the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, the Media Giraffe Project at UMass Amherst the New England News Forum and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute invite you to join in a work session for civic information transparency that builds from and beyond books.

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 might libraries do to facilitate community social news networks?
  • Must free speech be absolute within a taxpayer-supported institution?
  • How do we define the boundaries between engagement and partisanship?
  • 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 commons?


Among our 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), Marsha Iverson (King County libraries), Library Leadership & Management Assn. (LLMA), Alan Inouye (director, Office of Info Tech Policy, ALA), Nancy Kranich (Rutgers Univ., chair ALA Center for Public Life), Lorrie LeJeune and Andrew Whitacre (MIT C4FCM), Leigh Montgomery (Christian Science Monitor librarian), Donna Nicely (Knight Commission/Nashville Public Library), Patrick Phillips (Vineyard Voice), Josh Stearns (FreePress.net), Colin Rhinesmith (Univ. of Illinois), Bill Densmore, (New England News Forum/Media Giraffe Project/Reynolds Journalism Institute).

Stipends available

Journalism That Matters encourages diverse participation at all of our workshops and events. We seek to identify sponsors capable of underwriting stipends to defray registration fees and, occassional travel costs, for would-be participants who apply early requesting financial assistance. If you are certain you wish to attend, but are uncertain about funds to do so, register now and choose the “Request Stipend” option. We will review request in mid-March and make as many awards as possible.

Two-event discount

Through a special arrangement with organizers of the National Conference For Media Reform, early registrants to BiblioNews who wish to remain through the weekend in Boston can receive discounted registration at both events. When registering for BiblioNews, choose the two-event option. You will be automatically cross-registered for the Natiional Conference for Media Reform and will receive a credential for NCMR upon arrival at BiblioNews.

Early-bird discount

Because of critical interest in our topic, we anticipate strong participation which will be limited by the size of the facilities being donated by the MIT Center for Future Civic Media. By commiting now to attend, you not only guarantee a spot, but also can take advantage of a substantial “early bird” discount available through the end of February.

Lodging — Kendall Hotel

The new, boutique Kendall Hotel, one block from our venue, has reserved until March 6 a block of rooms at $189/night plus taxes and fes for Wednesday or Thursday and $139/night on Friday and Saturday (for participants staying for the NCMR). Both rates include free wireless in-room Internet access, continental breakfast, and a pass to a nearby fitness center. For reservations, please call 1-866-566-1300 or 1-617-577-1300. A booking ID will be emailed to you upon registration to receive the special rate. A credit card must be provided at the time of reservation to secure the booking. The Kendall hotel at the Engine 7 Firehouse / 350 Main St., Cambridge MA 02142.

A negotiated rate of $209/night is pending with the Cambridge Marriott (617-494-6600), two blocks from our meeting place. You will receive a code to access the rate with the email which confirms your registration to participate in BiblioNews.

Participants can also review lodging options at the FreePress conference site logistics page.


Bartos Theater
20 Ames St.Building E15 Wiesner Building on the MIT campus
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
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