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Libraries and Democracy: a Place to Listen, Learn, and Discuss

by Diana Laughlin, Program Services Supervisor

“Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right.”

Through these words, Jane Goodall said it well. Learning, listening, and positive dialogue are at the heart of the Library’s Current Affairs series. Your feedback has told us you value discussion-based programs convened through your hometown Library. This season, we’re offering more opportunities to unite while exploring major issues of our day.

Join us this Tuesday, March 5, for “Protecting the Freedom to Read”, spotlighting current challenges facing libraries—and their community of readers and researchers. Next, on Wednesday, March 13, Library staff and regional reporters will present “Balanced Journalism: a Panel Discussion.”

We conclude the series on Tuesday, April 2 with a book discussion of Susan Orlean’s acclaimed “The Library Book,” which has been called “a persuasive reminder of the importance of libraries, whose shared spaces house historical treasures built with the common good in mind.”

The programs are built around the themes of library love, informed citizens, fair and balanced information, and equal access to information.

We’re especially grateful for the expertise—local and regional—that we’ve been able to bring to recent programs. We’ve learned from experts like former State Senators Linda Newell and Kevin Lundberg. Representing opposite sides of the aisle, they articulated their pathways to bipartisan politics. And Dr. Martín Carcasson demonstrated ways to “tackle wicked problems” by rediscovering the power of collaborative democracy.

We also benefit from solid community partnerships, including the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Estes Park, and the Estes Valley Restorative Justice Partnership.

Join us for “Protecting the Freedom to Read” this Tuesday, March 5 from 6 to 7:30 pm in the Estes Park Town Board Room. Register at estesvalleylibrary.org. 

Jim Duncan, Director of the Colorado Library Consortium, will discuss how libraries across the U.S. are striving to protect free access to the books and research materials needed by both students and the general public. He’ll update us on how Colorado libraries have recently been under pressure to remove access to certain digital materials, despite an existing structure that allows local control and the ability for schools and libraries to align materials to age-appropriate audiences.

Some libraries and schools have already eliminated access to these materials. To make matters worse, reporting by some Colorado media outlets has been misleading and incomplete.

These programs are part of our continuing commitment to you. Our Strategic Plan, built upon listening to community needs, inspires us to “Enable a greater sense of community”, and specifically, to “engage community members in current affairs and decision making”.

Inspired by Jane Goodall’s timely message, here’s to this season’s learning, listening and healthy dialogue.