Back in 2013, we threw out an idea during the inspiration phase of the Knight News Challenge on Open Government. It wasn’t really core to what we’re doing here at Intellitics, so we didn’t pursue it further. To our knowledge, the “public participation calendar” still hasn’t been implemented two years later, so we recently brought it up again vis-a-vis the White House.
The two challenges that followed (in late 2013 on harnessing data and information for the health of communities, and again in early 2014 on strengthening the internet for free expression and innovation) were both very interesting but too remote for us as well.
Now their latest challenge invites everyone to reimagine the role of the library now and in the future and asks how we can “leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities”. We see a lot of overlap with conversations that have been going on for years within the library community and in the broader areas of participatory democracy, open government and even the future of journalism and local news media.
Here’s the proposal we submitted over the weekend:
Talking Solutions: Online deliberation tools and methods, built on best practices in public engagement, tailored to support libraries in their new roles as facilitators of informed community problem-solving.
In the conversations with regard to reinventing public libraries in the United States as civic hubs, one central theme has been their potential role as trusted conveners and facilitators of informed community problem solving processes. Some libraries are already developing the capacity to fulfill these new roles.
Talking Solutions will work with such libraries to develop and test a widely adaptable, turn-key model for successfully extending their deliberation services online.
We will run a series of rapid prototyping projects in several parts of the country to explore how best practices in online tools, dialogue methods and knowledge management can be readily incorporated as vital elements in the new roles libraries are now taking on.
See it in full and share your feedback in the comments.
And while you’re at it, check out these other excellent proposals that are related to ours (complete as of
last night the end of the submissions phase we’ll update the list as more proposals stream in today and tomorrow):
- The Library as the 21st Century Town Square – Seek more civility in our discourse? Transform the local library into the 21st century town square.
- Local Library Fellowships: Focusing on Community Engagement – Fund a series of community forums to establish the wants/needs of individual libraries/branches, followed by a fellowship program through which artists, writers, researchers, etc can fulfill an in-residence program focused on those local goals with the deliverables becoming part of each libraries permanent collection.
- The Library at the Center: building collaborative engagement to solve one city’s problems. – The Library at the Center seeks to empower Newburgh’s minority population with new skills and opportunities to participate fully in solving the city’s pressing problems.
- The Forum: Collaborative Public Learning – Local forums, supported by a vibrant online community for interested parties, will allow organizers to run training workshops, awareness events, featured speakers and presentations, and access to technology for all members of society.
- Turning Libraries into “Community Observatories” – We turn libraries into “community observatories” where residents work together to crowdsource data, make mapstories, and explore the historical evolution of their local communities.
- Re-envisioning the public library as a place for everything in the community – a safe free space to read, study and connect both digitally and personally. – Connecting the community with a comfortable, safe space to meet, take advantage of free resources, and share ideas and expertise.
- Hometown Democracy – Small boroughs and townships in our area suffer from a lack of civic activism; elected leaders set less than creative agendas and their constituents, perhaps distracted by a news media focus on state, national and international issues, fail to get involved in their hometowns; and the Ford City Public Library seeks to encourage them to do otherwise in a program called “Hometown Democracy.”
- Seeding Community Conversations in Media Deserts – Our project will inspire, train, and support libraries in strengthening community information networks by bringing together unheard voices, exploring underrepresented topics, and removing barriers to participation.
- The Sweet Spot: Where Community Knowledge and Institutional Expertise overlap to create change! – In order to create a more knowledgeable community and design more meaningful and life changing programs, SoMo will initiate a dialogue with the community with the ultimate goal of defining their hopes and aspirations for changing itself; the “Sweet Spot” is where the community’s aspirations and SoMo’s services overlap, the starting point for developing programs and services.
- Making Libraries: a knowledge commons rooted in tangible communities – ‘Making Libraries’ should strengthen the concept of “library” from a place to access information to also being a place for sharing and creating knowledge and, with that, building a knowledge commons rooted in tangible communities.
- MOOCs and Libraries: Working Together to Build More Knowledgeable Communities – Libraries can build more knowledgeable communities by collecting, organizing, and providing access to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
- Votes & Voices: Energizing Democracy through Local Libraries – The Austin Public Library will boost voter turnout and civic participation, seeking to engage all perspectives in our diverse communities through collaborative outreach campaigns, programs that explore local issues, and tech-enhanced meeting spaces throughout the city.
- Libraries as New Spaces for Democratic Deliberation: Using Community Libraries to Bring Missing Voices into Public Policymaking – If we can put libraries’ historic role as information provider to all members of the community together with innovative civic participation technology, the result could be new civic spaces for more inclusive forms of democratic policy deliberation.
- Pop-Up Public Square: The Library as a Trusted Anchor for Civic Engagement – @ChicagoLibrary host #PopUpPublicSquares where citizens can exercise democracy in neighborhoods underserved by physical civic spaces.
- Civility Rules: Not Just White Gloves & Party Manners, A Chance to Hear and Be Heard. – Take off the white gloves, the boxing gloves, the gardening gloves…whatever your political stripe, wherever you hail from, whoever you are, you are invited to partake in the Charlotte Civility Project, a chance to hear and be heard with grace and dignity.
- A lyceum for the future: activating citizens’ abundant natural capacity for original, authentic innovation, imaginariums catalyze a shift to problem-solving culture through informal citizen engagement, learning and idea incubation. – Imaginariums—social innovation idea labs—are lyceums for the future where citizens create, connect and catalyze 21st century enlightenment.
- Connect, Inspire, Enrich: Downtown – The public library, as a trusted community anchor, will leverage its resources and work with partners to create shared visioning space, activities and resources for downtown planners and the general public to strengthen redevelopment, community engagement, and positive narratives for a revitalized downtown community.
- The Libraries & Communities Workshop Series: Creating a Space for Local, National, and Global Discussions and Programs about the Impact of Libraries on Communities – The Center for the Study of Libraries, Information, & Society (CSLIS) will create the Libraries & Communities Workshop series to showcase the evolving roles of libraries as community educators and to share exciting projects and research findings from industry, academia, nonprofit organizations, community groups, and individuals working in all types of libraries.
- Empowering libraries to hear all voices – Loomio breaks down barriers to inclusive library-centered community engagement by making online participation disability-accessible.
- Clermont Now: An interactive digital community hub to include, inform and engage all Clermont County residents – Create an interactive, multi-channel platform that will: • Create a forum for community conversations; • Enable life-long learning; • Provide access to information, events and activities.
- Using Tech & Libraries to Inform Voters in Rural Alaska – Use tech and content to spike AK Bush voter registration, awareness and participation and engagement using libraries as the hub.
- Young people gather to discuss issues that matter most to them and learn how to create multi-media stories, giving voice to their ideas, hopes and dreams. – Young people gather in library makerspaces to discuss relevant issues and then, with instruction from professional journalists and the use of portable media labs, create stories (text, photo, audio and video) to be published on the successful and engaging citizen journalism website, Community News Commons (www.cncwpg.org).
- The Library Salon Sessions – The Library Salon Sessions cultivate ideas for the future of our city by bringing together a group of our brightest change makers to research, discuss, and help implement solutions to locally driven needs, acting as a mini public policy think tank for Miami’s future.
- Transforming Information into Knowledge in the 21st Century – Through a statewide listening tour, citizens of all ages will help to create a new vision for 21st century public library services.
- Libraries at the heart of lifelong learning online and offline – Librarians will access a guide to online learning and new courses that address community requests as well as hosting sessions for learners to get together to discuss, thus libraries become the center of blended learning.
- The Big Problem – Students solving the world’s problems, one at a time.
- Pioneering a Role for Libraries as Hubs for Community Information in the Black Hills of South Dakota. – Black Hills libraries and partners team up to build the community information hub of the future.
- Vote Now or Forever Hold Your Peace – Omaha Public Library will serve as a community nexus, partnering with other agencies and organizations to bring people together to tackle complex community challenges in a civil manner
- Community-led libraries: the public is the program – Let’s facilitate collaboration between libraries and community members to develop community-led libraries.
- Fredtalk: Community Conversations @ the Library Commons – People throughout our transitory metropolitan suburban region want to connect and learn, and the library is the natural catalyst and venue.
- Intercity Public Square – The Intercity Public Square is an experimental gigabit window between libraries in different cities.
- Pittsburgh’s Community Information Commons: Storytelling, Problem solving, Resource sharing – The Community Information Commons will be a shared knowledge base of community history, issues, and resources for problem solving, strategizing, and engagement using open source software (Collective Access) to curate and disseminate content.
We’ve been getting great inititial feedback from librarians in the Bay Area and beyond and are actively looking for partners. If you’re involved with a library that’s already offering community engagement services or is planning to do so in the future, or if you’re a technology provider with tools that support online deliberation, or if you’re a researcher who’d like to do research on this project, or a civic engagement organization interested in lending additional support to this effort, please get in touch and let us discuss how we might collaborate. Thanks!