Knight Blog

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

In a digital society, libraries become important places for people to engage and connect with their city

Nov. 3, 2011, 12:13 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Over the next two days, directors of some of the most creative libraries in the U.S. and key civic leaders are sharing ways public libraries can help strengthen community engagement.

The Urban Libraries Partners for Success Conference 2011 brings together thought leaders in today’s civic engagement movement and young people who will shape the future of American communities.

“Civic engagement comes in many forms and libraries are at the top of the list of places where people can get involved,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez told the crowd as he helped open the conference. “Libraries contribute to a stronger sense of community and help produce solutions to local issues. I’m confident that will continue to hold true.”

Knight Foundation sat down with Susan Benton, president and CEO of the Urban Libraries Council to learn more about the connection between libraries and community engagement.

Q: What is the role that libraries play in developing community engagement? 

S.B: Libraries are part of the natural infrastructure of the community. In many neighborhoods, we are the primary community asset and the place where people come together on a regular basis.

Q: In what kinds of ways do you see citizens interacting with their local libraries?

Student debate goes high tech with interactive wall

Nov. 2, 2011, 9:58 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Dec 8. update: Check out the Civil Debate Wall in action!

As a way to encourage dialogue about the most critical issues facing Florida and the nation, this fall the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida launched a 44-by-26 inch interactive wall.

The Great Civil Debate Wall, aimed specifically at engaging students, will encourage those with diverse backgrounds and political views to express their opinions.

The new Knight-funded project was featured in this month’s edition of Florida Trend magazine in an article titled “Civic Engagement: Raising Questions.”

Keeping an informed and engaged St. Paul

Nov. 1, 2011, 10:40 a.m., Posted by Polly M. Talen

The following post by Polly M. Talen, program director/St. Paul for Knight Foundation focuses on the foundation's efforts in St. Paul. It was originally written for the Minnesota Council on Foundation's Giving Forum Fall 2011.

You might have heard something on Minnesota Public Radio about supporting journalism in the digital age. Possibly you’ve experienced a Random Act of Culture or participated in the Minnesota State Fair’s first Giant Sing Along. Or maybe you heard about a group of foundations and civic leaders working to ensure that the new Central Corridor light rail line provides opportunity for all of Saint Paul’s residents, especially those living in neighborhoods adjacent to the new line.