Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Meeting the information needs of communities at the public library

Sept. 22, 2014, 1:16 p.m., Posted by Amy Garmer


Photo illustration using photos by Flickr users Sourabh Rath and Thomas Hawk

Knight News Challenge: Libraries offers applicants a chance to share in $2.5 million by focusing on the question, “How might we leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities?” Below, Amy Garmer, director of the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries, writes about the need for libraries to become community learning platforms.

The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy called on the nation to make every community in the United States an informed, engaged community:

America needs a vision for “informed communities,” places where the information ecology meets the personal and civic information needs of people. This means people have the information they need to take advantage of life’s opportunities for themselves and their families. It also means they can participate fully in our system of self-government, to stand up and be heard. Paramount in this vision are the critical democratic values of openness, inclusion, participation, empowerment, and the common pursuit of truth and the public interest.

This vision of a place where the information ecology meets the personal and civic information needs of people describes perfectly the public library! And it’s the starting point for the work we’re doing through the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries.

Innovation, creativity and art take over the streets of Detroit

Sept. 21, 2014, 5:49 p.m., Posted by Katy Locker


A projection shines upon the Detroit Public Library during Dlectricity 2012. Photo by the Kresge Foundation on Flickr

This is a big week in Detroit and a great week for several Knight Foundation-sponsored events.  It is a week to celebrate the creative and innovative elements of Detroit’s growth and revitalization—and to have fun.

The Detroit Design Festival returns for its fourth year, beginning with a kick-off party on Tuesday evening and closing with Light Up Livernois on Sunday. The festival is a celebration of Detroit’s role as a global center of design and creativity, with over 500 designers, 25,000 attendees and 30 “Design Happenings.” One of the great parts of the Detroit Design Festival is its mix of national and “big” events and ideas with locally inspired happenings. My favorite part is always Eastern Market After Dark (presented Thursday night).  Expect 20-plus studios, shops and design happenings in Detroit’s historic and eclectic Eastern Market district. The entire schedule can be found here.

This year, the Detroit Design Festival coordinated with the organizers of Dlectricity, a two-night festival of art + light. Thirty-five international, national and local artists will illuminate the Woodward Corridor Friday and Saturday nights, from the Detroit Institute of Arts to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, with cutting-edge installations of light, video, performance, interactive engineering and other unexpected works of art. Dlectricity was an inaugural winner last year of Knight Arts Challenge Detroit. Two years ago, despite the rain, these were two of the most magical nights I’ve ever seen in Detroit. And Dlectricity mixes big and small, national and local too. As Detroit builds its momentum as a bike city, the Saturday night Dlectricity Light Bike Parade will rival Detroit’s own Slow Roll. The schedule for Dlectricity can be found here.

A new arts initiative for Akron

Sept. 21, 2014, 12:01 a.m., Posted by Dennis Scholl

Last year, Knight and the GAR Foundation released a survey on the arts in Akron that was telling.

We found a real hunger for arts and culture in the city. People craved it. But we also found some gaps: African-Americans and young people in particular were having trouble finding programming that spoke to them.

I was impressed by how the arts community turned the information into an opportunity. They met, began to talk about what culture meant to them and the broader community, to look at strengths, opportunities and a way forward.

To us at Knight, it was a great sign that Akron as a community was sitting down to reshape its cultural identity.

Knight Foundation wants to play its part in helping Akron shape its new vibrant cultural community.  So today we’re excited to announce $6 million in new investments in the arts in Akron, funding we hope will build on this momentum.