As trusted institutions, public libraries serve their communities by improving digital skills, helping people access information in new ways, providing a space for learning at every age, and connecting people to jobs, educational opportunities and critical community services. Yet, despite these benefits, libraries face ongoing challenges with budget cuts and the need to adapt in an increasingly diverse, mobile and digital society.
To help advance the work that public libraries are doing to address these challenges and to support the transformation of public libraries for the digital age, the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program is spearheading a multi-year initiative to explore, develop and champion new ways of thinking about U.S. public libraries.
The Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries will spark a national conversation to help communities and library institutions think in new ways about the mission and role of public libraries. The conversations held throughout this year will result in a report that outlines a shared vision for public libraries and provides recommendations to generate an ongoing national dialogue.
The Dialogue will kick off with an invitation-only meeting in early August where selected working group members will consider solutions to ensure public libraries are at the forefront of serving communities for years to come.
The working group, which includes leaders from the library field, executives from businesses, officials from various levels of government, community development visionaries and education experts, is based on the Aspen Institute model of bringing together diverse perspectives to generate breakthrough ideas, with thought leading to action.
While the August meeting is invitation-only, there will be several opportunities for others to join the conversation and offer input and ideas for the vision through online feedback and at scheduled meetings and conferences throughout the year. Those opportunities will be added here following the August meeting.
In the meantime, join the conversation on Twitter. Use the Dialogue’s hashtag – #libraryvision – to share your vision for the next generation of public libraries.