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Public Libraries Improving Public Participation and Democracy

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Presentation on theme: "Public Libraries Improving Public Participation and Democracy"— Presentation transcript:

1 Public Libraries Improving Public Participation and Democracy
ALA Annual, Chicago 24th June 2017 Anders Ericson

2 About myself 1973 - 76: Library student, Oslo, Norway
: Librarian in a college of education, a folk high school and library manager in a small municipality near Oslo. : Consultant, deputy director etc. in the National Directorate for Public Libraries, and journalist in their journal, Bok og bibliotek. : Librarian in a college of engineering 1999 to present: Freelance journalist, consultant, lecturer, study tour planner and guide, etc. 2001: Published a book on PL information services and the need for an independent public library (in Norwegian): A short version in English: ISC No. 18, Winter 2003. : Journalist at Norwegian Library Association; Web editor and journalist in their journal Bibliotekforum 2006 to present: “Concept developer”: “The Library Takes Up The Case” - with associated blog:

3 Library campaigns against fake news - a paradox
When did public libraries last really prioritize information, facts and news? Not since people - and libraries - let Google take over ... We abdicated

4 Public libraries desperately seeking ...
Click pics to open sites. Use Google Translate for Scandinavian ones

5 Then why not the good old information, facts, news and knowledge?
“Our central concerns are with content, not the means of communicating that content, and certainly not with modes of communication that are peripheral to the human record” New ed. 2015

6 Information, facts, news in PL today typically limited to individual requests
Knowledge out of date: 1922: Norwegian recommendation: Fiction 20% of holdings Today: 53% and counting

7 2017: A favourable situation for PL and information, facts and news:

8 Intellectual and political freedom at stake
At det du øver på helt konkret påvirker kraften i den posisjonen du konkurrerer i. Intellectual and political freedom at stake Was supposed to forbid “conspiracy theo- ries” and control “non-violent extremism”

9 Press struggles with its societal responsibilities
From paper to Web: Ads’ transit, first to TV, then Web Micropayment = micro revenue The Tyranny of Clicks - Clickbaits The challenge of citizen journalism and grassroot and social media Fake news The concept of citizen journalism (also known as "public", "participatory", "democratic",[1] "guerrilla"[2] or "street" journalism[3]) is based upon public citizens "playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information WPedia

10 - Thus in an age of specialization, of social fragmentation, the library, like the communication system of which it is a part, can become a great cohesive force at a time when social cohesion is most vital. But unlike the mass media of communication it need not be an instrument for the achievement of conformity. – Jesse Shera, The Foundations of Education for Librarianship, 1972.

11 First of all: Rediscover Samek! (2007)
My own copy. See the many bookmarks! Click for Worldcat record

12 Libraries to improve public participation and democracy

13 In the physical library:

14 Open debate meetings 1 Monroeville Public Library, Penn.

15 Open debate meetings 2 The public library of Lillehammer, Norway:
Open debate on a controversial road plan, against the will of politicians and deputy mayor. Library manager: «Some council members and administrators were very annoyed but most people appreciated it very much».

16 Open debate meetings 3 Alta, Norway (the 3rd northernmost town in the world!): The library arranged an open debate that settled a long-lasting conflict fish farmers versus sport fishermen and environmentalists

17 Open debate meetings 4 Gran, rural town, Norway:
The public library, in cooperation with local newspaper, gathered reluctant council members of two municipalities to debate controversial consolidation of the two

18 Norway 2014: “The debate library act”
Act revised to include debates as a compulsory service: Library is «an independent meeting place and forum for public dialogue and debate». Status of chief librarian a parallel to a newspaper editor. Click to read article The chief librarian is solely to decide contents of the debates and no officers of higher rank nor politicians may overrule. The Minister of Culture pronounced the status of a chief librarian as parallel to a newspaper editor.

19 Libraries to improve public participation and democracy
On their Websites:

20 An easy start: Daily presentation of the actual sources of issues covered by local media (or not covered) No known example yet Who is first?! Press quote but don’t often link to the actual documents. External links make readers leave and often not return to the article = fewer clicks to ads and thus reduced revenue. Library funding is not by clicks!

21 The Monroeville HOT TOPICS
Sets of Web resources on local, national and international current issues. Initiated by Mark Hudson, Monroeville, Penn. Click pics to read

22 The Library Takes Up The Case: A more exhaustive approach #librarycase
An LTC-service strengthens transparency and thus democracy in major cases when information is insufficient and/or unbalanced. Where neither authority nor press offer balanced coverage of e.g. a controversial development program. First LTC 2006: PLs of 4 municipalities ran an LTC on a controversial new civil airport in Southern Norway

23 The Library Takes Up The Case: A Current Case
The portal “New Municipalities – New Library”, covering ongoing govt. process of consolidating Norwegian municipalities and preparing PL for the changes. Links to documents, news and debates; pros and cons. Find orange translate icon at bottom right

24 Suggested elements of an LTC portal. Display links to:
Informative and/or revealing documents of importance Agendas and minutes Pronouncements by political parties etc. Grassroots campaigns, NGOs etc. of both or all sides and views. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter. Search links (e.g Google URLs) on relevant terms in newspapers and trade, scholarly and non-scholarly journals and magazines that cover the process. News archives as PressDisplay etc. Relevant open discussion fora. Relevant library books and other media; search links in OPACs. Relevant encyclopedia articles Read more and see a dummy

25 Then social action in real life

26 Humanistic and disaster relief
Ferguson Public Library after the unrest: Created an “ad hoc school on the fly”, cultural enrichment, and a meeting space for the community Library Journal

27 Humanistic and disaster relief
2005: After hurricane Katrina Information center for evacuees internet access, , phone and fax local information disaster-related information.”

28 Support of social and free cultural movements
Library organizations engage for: Open Access Copyright issues - on behalf of common users Stand up for Wikileaks, Black Lives Matter, Natalya Sharina etc. Stand against e.g. Patriot Act

29 Finally: About the value of the independent public library

30 Adolf Henriksson - librarians’ equivalent to Julian Assange
1968: AH, chief librarian in Swedish mining town, invites author to present new, harsh documentary on working miners’ condit- ions. AH is given a secret document - a proposal for a new authoritarian organizat- ion model for the mines. AH hangs it up with an exhibition of the book’s photo. Soon it’s in all the newspapers. And triggered off the biggest strike ever in Sweden. Author Sara Lidman and AH at this event

31 Thank you! And welcome to contribute with ideas and existing services here:
Libraries Improving Public Participation and Democracy Or contact:

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