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Democracy in Action

Every ULC library — in small and large ways — is organizing and contributing to civil discussions and programs that support a strong democracy. To best learn from one another, ULC is collecting descriptions of your efforts and making these available on this website.

Democracy in Action Submission Template

We expect that your library may have multiple initiatives, so please share all of your messaging and relevant programs. We have provided a template for adding new descriptions. Please send completed templates to ULC Communications Manager, Elise Calanni.

ULC's Declaration of Democracy

Public libraries are critical cornerstones of democracy, and democracy’s future is diminished when people’s access to power, information, a diversity of voices and the ability to influence policy are restricted. The battle to protect democracy is a global struggle playing out at the local level and libraries have landed on the front lines. Democracy can only thrive with strong community level support and engagement. As leaders of North America’s urban public libraries, we must commit to preserving, protecting and advancing the highest hopes and ideals of democracy so all members of our communities may fully participate in the democratic process.

The ULC Declaration of Democracy provides libraries with a baseline for building policies and actions that preserve and protect democracy in our communities.

Learn More and Sign On

Library Initiatives

Alexandria Library

Civic Program/Service

In partnership with the For Love of Country Foundation, the library has offered a poetry and essay contest for rising 7, 8, and 9th graders.

Community Need

Designed to increase interest in civic action, promoting early awareness in the political and governing process, and increasing reasoned voting by improving civic understanding. Winning participants were awarded $100, $50, and $25 cash prizes.

Contact: Rose Dawson,, Alexandria Library Executive Director

Anne Arundel County Public Library

Civic Program/Service

June 2021. Ceremony installing lynching marker/memorial at entrance to one of our busiest libraries, commemorating 5 victims. 200 community members and press attended. Collaboration with local group and Equal Justice Institute's Community Remembrance Project. December 2021-August 2022. Soil collection and display at a library near the site of King Johnson's murder, Christmas Day, 1911. Same partners.

Community Need

Community healing.

Contact: Skip Auld,, Anne Arundel County Public Library Chief Executive Officer

Boston Public Library

Civic Program/Service

We are a Polling Place; we offer a range of services related to helping patrons participate in society, from new immigrants to the housing insecure; covering social work, career counseling and self improvement.

Community Need

To ensure all can fully participate in community and society, as well as gain equitable access to their opportunities.

Contact: David Leonard,, Boston Public Library President

Calgary Public Library

Civic Program/Service

Calgary’s 2021 Municipal Election brought unprecedented turnover at city hall following a tight and heated campaign period. In the lead-up, Calgary Public Library saw a gap in trusted and accurate information and launched a digital vote planning tool to drive turnout and engagement among populations with historically low participation rates. Challenge/Opportunity: · Calgary had to elect a new mayor; almost two-thirds of wards had no incumbent councillor running; ward boundaries changed in 2020 and no voters list was created. · The Government of Alberta included referenda questions and Senate recommendations as part of elections. · Due to pandemic, no “vote anywhere” option. A voters’ advance weekday, advance weekend, and election day polling sites could all be different. · Complex voting processes are a large barrier for first-time youth voters, immigrants, and those new to Calgary. Written vote plans have been shown to increase turnout by helping people visualize the steps they’ll take to vote, overcoming the executive function problems some new voters encounter. Plan My Vote was developed in partnership with Elections Calgary to help voters plan their voting process ahead of time. After answering four questions, a personalized plan including required ID, voting location with map, directions via preferred transport method, and links to all candidates and referenda questions was emailed to users.

Community Need

The Plan My Vote app simplified the process for voters, reducing barriers to participation · Resulted in a new partnership with Elections Calgary · The app was used over 10,000 times in the three and a half weeks leading up to the election · A significant number of prominent local figures and organizations across the political spectrum linked to the tool directly on their social media or included it in their advocacy efforts, introducing the Library to communities we may not have been able to connect with otherwise. This is one example of a Civic Engagement initiative at Calgary Public Library that had a significant impact.

Contact: Sarah Meilleur,, Calgary Public Library CEO

Cedar Rapids Public Library

Civic Program/Service

The library partners with Linn County, the City of Cedar Rapids, and Iowa Legal Aid to present Expungement Clinic and Resource Fairs.

Community Need

The purpose of these clinics is to help people overcome barriers to housing, employment, and education, and to learn about the various assistance programs and resources available.

Contact: Dara Schmidt,, Cedar Rapids Public Library Director

Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library

Civic Program/Service

In the election season of Autumn 2021, we partnered with Cincinnati-based Action Tank, a civic engagement educational organization, to provide a community conversation entitled “What should we expect from our elected leaders?” The target audience consisted of voters from across the City of Cincinnati to convene to share their lived experiences, ideas, and to deliberate in conversation in order to learn from each other. The event was facilitated by a leader from Action Tank. Approximately 20 community members from different neighborhoods of the City joined us, and a primary outcome was consensus that community members must be civically active in order to safeguard our local democracy.

Community Need

Action Tank and our Library saw the need for the community conversation because three City of Cincinnati Council members had been arrested on federal corruption charges. Our intent was to provide a community conversation that would explore the facts surrounding the issues, to dispel any disinformation, and to provide a public opportunity for community members to learn from each other and how community efforts and voting impact our local democracy. The community conversation was held at a strategic time before the November 2021 election because a new slate of candidates was running for City Council. Additional civic engagement activities of the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library: We joined the new action group Greater Cincinnati Voter Collaborative in early 2019, to strengthen our efforts in connecting people with voter education and voter registration opportunities Thirteen of our 41 locations serve as voting locations We mailed absentee voter forms & voter information to all 1,200 of our In-the-Mail customers Our Government Relations Coordinator Elaine Fay attended Action Tank’s City Council Bootcamp to learn about the inner workings of city hall so we could better connect residents to resources We developed and update our voter education and information webpage, and post a variety of voter education topics on our website.

Contact: Paula Brehm-Heeger,, Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Executive Director

Columbus Metropolitan Library

Civic Program/Service

Materials and programs relative to the election and voting. Usually in collaboration with a group like the League of Women Voters. A place to vote. Meeting room space for town halls for local officials - usually City Council member. Swearing in ceremony for new elected officials and also new citizens. Books and author programs relative to topics racial equity, affordable housing, red-lining.

Community Need

Generally what we are offering is a trusted source for information, a vehicle for education. The utilization of free, public space participation in the democratic process in a variety of forms. A means to educate oneself to be more informed about issues.

Contact: Donna Zuiderweg,, Columbus Metropolitan Library Chief Community Engagement Officer

Dakota County Library

Civic Program/Service

We have partnered with a group called Braver Angels and offer a series of programs. First, "Blue & Red" a facilitator using the fishbowl technique has one side listen while the other answers a set of questions. Then the groups switch. It encouraged learning where people of other political parties actually stand on certain issues. Second an art class on political protest posters - attendees learned about them and made one. Last was a program on developing listening skills to use during political discussion. We also have had the director of Elections for the county explain how elections work and ballots are counted. We partnered with the League of Women voters local chapter to have tables in library foyers to help people get registered and answer other questions. Lastly, we posted messages on social media platforms such, "don't know where your voting place is? check here"

Community Need

This year Dakota County has experienced a lot of individuals questioning the security of the elections and claiming errors were made. The events we offered this year were in response to that. The Braver Angels sessions were in response to the divisions we saw in our community.

Contact: Margaret Stone,, Dakota County Library Director

Dallas Public Library

Civic Program/Service

DPL has worked with Pen America on a series of Media and Information Literacy events over the course of the last couple of years. Most recently, we hosted a forum about book bans and the freedom to read featuring Pen America guests and local advocates. Events in the series have included topics like the psychology of misinformation, how to talk with friends/family, strategies for finding credible sources. We've also had escape rooms that teach media literacy using misleading clues, which helps reach more people than would simply want to come to a seminar.

Community Need

The string of county and school system book bans in Texas are representative of the stark cultural and information divides in the state and country. The series was intended to help individuals who feel awash in misinformation or want to take action against book banning in their community.

Contact: Heather Lowe,, Dallas Public Library Assistant Director

Dayton Metro Library

Civic Program/Service

We offer record sealing and drivers license reinstatement clinics. We host naturalization ceremonies and community ID programs. We are attempting to increase ELL classes. Many staff serve on boards of various local non-profit orgs. We offer free tickets and passes to numerous arts organizations.

Community Need

Normalizing conversations regarding LGBTQIA+ patrons, immigrant/refugee populations, BIPOC and other minority patrons. We are alos looking at opportunities for information literacy/combating disinformation programming and how to effectively engage with our communities on those topics.

Contact: Shaun Wright,, Dayton Metro Library Information Services Manager

DC Public Library

Civic Program/Service

In 2019, DCPL received funding to hire its first Civic Engagement Coordinator. In addition to being responsible for coordinating the Library efforts to assist the Board of Elections with early voting and election day activities, the Coordinator is charged with devising the Library's strategy to increase civic participation among communities with historically low turnout. One recent notable event she led was the "GoGo Vote Party" in September that lured residents with music and activities in an effort to increase voter registrations, recruit election workers, and provide general election information.

Community Need

Voting can be seen as chore. Communities that have been historically excluded and feel voting doesn't make a difference are targeted with programming -- in this case a celebration of DC's official music "GoGo" -- that allow the Library and our Board of Election partners to engage them directly in an effort to excite them about participation.

Contact: Rich Reyes-Gavilan, DCPL Executive Director,

Edmonton Public Library

Civic Program/Service

Edmonton Public Library, along with the Jewish Federation of Edmonton, hosted Saskatchewan artist Carol Wylie and Saddle Lake Indigenous Educator Terri Cardinal to discuss their perspectives on survival and healing from the Holocaust and residential schools. This event was offered in conjunction with Carol Wylie’s art installation, They didn't know we were seeds, which is on display at the Stanley A. Milner Library from September 29 through November 25, 2022. This large-scale portrait series honours those lost in residential schools and the Holocaust, as well as survivors and intergenerational survivors. The art exhibit and discussion were aimed at those interested in expanding their knowledge of the generational impact of government-sponsored genocidal events. The broader public has been able to take in Carol Wylie’s beautiful and moving portrait collection over the past 2 months. The conversation between Wylie and Cardinal, which took place on October 6th 2022, was an in-person event attended by members of the local Jewish and Indigenous communities, including Indigenous Elders, as well as members of the broader Edmonton community.

Community Need

Wylie states in her project/artist statement: Both Indigenous survivors and Jewish survivors speak of a solidarity forged from the shared need to find ways of healing personal and generational trauma in the wake of horrendous abuse and attempted genocide, and to educate. In addition, the conversation between Wylie and Cardinal highlighted the responsibility of government and the role of policymaking, particularly with regards to Truth & Reconciliation, in building a future where democratic ideals of inclusive governance and respect for human rights are upheld and protected.

Contact: Pilar Martinez,, Edmonton Public Library CEO

Hennepin County Library

Civic Program/Service

The Mary Ann Key Book Club uses reading to catalyze conversation on systemic racism, discrimination, and other forms of bias that affect marginalized communities. Each season, the Mary Ann Key book club selects a book title, organizes community events — often including the author — and gives residents the tools to form their own discussion groups. This collaboration between Hennepin County Library, Friends of the Hennepin County Library, and the Star Tribune is cultivating a metro-wide community of people who want to read, learn, talk, and listen.

Programming and events are built around the ambition to create a better, broader understanding of current and historic injustices, while ceding power within these conversations to those directly affected by racism and discrimination. The Mary Ann Key book club is named after partner and Star Tribune columnist Myron Medcalf’s great-great-great grandmother, who was enslaved in Georgia in the 1850s.

Each reading season includes community conversations facilitated by a local leader as well as a community panel discussion. These panels center the perspectives of individuals from marginalized communities who share their lived experiences and reflections in connection with the book.

“I loved the shared experience of reading and listening,” one participant told us. “Most of the time, my insights are a private experience. It has been so enriching to read something within a community and hear so many others weigh in on this book and ground it in our state and the greater Twin Cities area, a place we all can see is not immune to systemic racism, but at ground zero."

Community Need

Following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, there was an outpouring of desire among Twin Cities residents to educate themselves about the area’s history of racist practices and learn how to support positive change. In December 2020, Star Tribune columnist Myron Medcalf wrote a column titled “How can Minnesotans face the truth about racism, past and present? Start with a book.” Medcalf shared a vision for a book club where readers would engage together in learning about our state and nation’s history of race and racism and its current impacts. Within days, he received more than 1,500 emails expressing interest.

In response, HCL launched the Mary Ann Key (MAK) Book Club with columnist Myron Medcalf in February 2021 with a goal to grow and support a community of residents interested in learning and taking action to combat racism. HCL supports broad participation through no-wait access to title selections. Residents can participate by reading, forming a discussion group, joining a community conversation, attending author events and community panel discussions. A newsletter provides reflection prompts, engaging video and written content and resources for further learning.

Program events amplify the perspectives of community leaders impacted by bias and discrimination. For example, our fall 2022 season featured Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong. At our community panel discussion, four Asian American leaders shared their experiences, highlighted their work to advance equity in our community and offered entry points for readers wondering how to take action in their daily lives.

In the next three seasons, more than 1,650 residents attended events, and book club title selections circulated 9,188 times. Our program newsletter – which shares video content and articles by Myron Medcalf and panelists as well as links to resources, organizations and further reading – currently engages more than 2,900+ subscribers.

The following quotes highlight the impact on participants:

“As an Asian American person,” one participant told us, “it was soul-supporting to see four Asian American people talking about a book written by another Asian American person. It made me feel seen and empowered to reach out to be part of an Asian American community in the Twin Cities.”

“I have a son we adopted from Korea,” another participant wrote. “This wonderful book, Mr. Medcalf's comments and articles, the author, and the panelists really made me think. I realize how many times I didn't support him or validate his experience when he felt something was racist or was hurt by something growing up. It makes me want to learn more and take responsibility for my behavior and change for the better.”

Contact: Ali Turner,, Hennepin County Library Community Engagement Manager


Civic Program/Service

“TESTIFY: American from Slavery to Today” ran from February 1 until March 29, 2023. TESTIFY was, first and foremost, an impactful exhibit of art and artifacts from the personal collection of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page and his family, which showed at the Cargill Gallery, Minneapolis Central Library. The exhibit confronted a record number of viewers, many of whom traveled from across the state or from neighboring states, with the historical reality of race in America. As Justice Page explains, “Our hope, in creating the exhibit, was that by shining a light on our country’s past we could learn to better understand the racial divide of the present. At the same time we hoped to illuminate a path to a brighter future, highlighting the strength, persistence, and resilience of the African-American community.”

From the start, both the Library and our partners knew that we didn’t want the exhibit to feel like a static experience. In 2018, when the exhibit first showed at Minneapolis Central, participants were encouraged to reflect on the experience. They expressed rage, sadness, and feelings of wanting to repair the damage done. For that reason, we designed a robust suite of programs for the TESTIFY 2023. Our main program was TESTIFY Tuesdays. For TESTIFY Tuesdays, we designed a series of 2-hour workshops, wherein participants would learn about advocacy opportunities around a specific topic (i.e. voting rights, immigration, police reform) from an invited non-partisan non-profit organization. This was followed by guided writing exercises, led by teaching artists from The Loft Literary Center, plus partnered learning and group share-outs. By the end of the session, participants will have learned more about a topic from a trusted resource, learned the importance of telling their own personal story as a tool for change advocacy, and were connected with resources that would allow them to stay connected with work happening in that week’s focus area at the local and legislative levels.

The TESTIFY Tuesdays workshops culminated in a Storytelling Slam the final week of the program. This program was held in the Pohlad Auditorium at Minneapolis Central Library. It featured invited performers, in addition to TESTIFY Tuesday participants who had workshopped their story to the point where they felt ready to present it onstage. The event was an emotionally cathartic success and a reminder of the importance of testimony.

TESTIFY Tuesdays proved to be so successful and well-received that we are currently in the planning stages to adapt the format for a more permanent program series promoting civic engagement and advocacy.

Community Need

Libraries are seen as trusted partners when it comes to information literacy. We’ve increasingly seen community members grapple with misinformation and bias. Simultaneously, the murder of George Floyd in our community, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, attacks on the democratic process, and a political focus on removing books or historical facts from educational curriculums have all combined to increase a feeling of hopelessness, division, or socio-political apathy among our patrons. TESTIFY participants, in their written reactions to the exhibit, echoed a sentiment that residents felt at a loss for how to meaningfully affect positive change and were looking to the Library for support.

By partnering with organizations well-versed in the legislative process and who were trustworthy, presented accurate information, and who offered meaningful pathways to participation, TESTIFY Tuesdays provided participants with the resources needed to be more informed and more involved in areas that interested them. By presenting research on the importance of personal testimony in creating a persuasive argument, the program removed the perceived barrier that one must be an expert in a topic for their voice to matter. Finally, by partnering with teaching artists from The Loft, we were able to generate and polish personal testimonies using prompts and workshop tactics. In many cases, participant testimonies were voluntarily shared with organizations or elected officials where they may have an impact, and in a few cases, were courageously shared onstage at our Storytelling Slam.

We collected feedback from all participants, which indicated a universally favorable response to the programming series, a desire to see more of this type of offering from the Library, and encouraging responses that participants felt both more likely to meaningfully participate in civic engagement and political advocacy as well as more capable of doing so. As a result, we plan to expand this program model beyond TESTIFY and into an ongoing offering in our system.

Contact: Ali Turner,, Hennepin County Library Community Engagement Manager

Johnson County Library

Civic Program/Service

We have a civic engagement committee that plans programs and creates content for our website. They provided voting information for the election. A recent past program was on gun control, attended by more than 150 people. There were panelists who discussed both sides and then allowed for conversation. We have an upcoming program called Gather at the Table - share a meal and discuss topics of relevance to you.

Community Need

Our Civic Engagement committee looks to target relevant topics and hopes to bring in people on both sides of the issue. The goal is to create a safe, neutral space where people can share their opinions, and hear from others with differing opinions.

Contact: Jennifer Mahnken,, Johnson County Library Associate Director for Branch Services

Las Vegas-Clark County Library District

Civic Program/Service

In partnership with the Nevada Homeless Alliance and Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, the District provided 400+ smart phones to low-income and homeless adult and teen residents through a groundbreaking Cell Phone Lending Program. Each phone is pre-loaded with Library District apps that provide life-enriching, educational resources and critical social and community services. The barrier-busting program put internet connectivity into the hands of local adults and teens who are low-income or experiencing homelessness. These devices are a lifeline, reconnecting them with family, social resources, educational and employment assistance, and so much more. This program is yet another example of how the library uses technology to empower and uplift people’s lives. The phones were distributed to vetted clients of the partner agencies at an event that included: a vendor fair with representatives from local social/health/employment support agencies; a COVID-19 shot clinic; a mobile shower truck; and a training session to educate the recipients about the resources and apps on the phone; and a cell phone tutorial. The phones were purchased with grants from the Institute of Museum & Library Services, Nevada State Library, and the American Library Association COVID Library Relief Fund.

Community Need

Research shows that cell phones are especially critical to the health and well-being of both adults and teens. Those experiencing homelessness use their mobile device as their primary means of staying connected to friends, speaking with their families, and contacting essential services that most people take for granted, according to research conducted by Common Sense Media in 2018. In addition to staying connected with social networks, a cell phone promotes safety and stability, enables them to communicate with case managers, health providers, employers, and makes it possible to seek housing opportunities and community resources. In fact, homeless youth report that paying the monthly subscription to a data plan for their smart phone is just as important as eating. Since its launch in April, we have received several success stories. Several cell phone borrowers have reported that they were able to secure housing or employment because they now have a call-back phone number for housing agencies or hiring managers to contact them.

Contact: Kelvin Watson,, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District Executive Director

Milton Public Library

Civic Program/Service

MPL is rolling out the "Hand-me-Down Project" that focuses on connecting seniors and teens in the local community. Through a Federal grant, seniors with specific talents and professions have been engaged to hand-down or pass along their expertise to teens. The programmes currently being offered include: financial planning and budgeting, cooking, physical wellness, booking binding and more.

Community Need

The program is addressing senior isolation (especially with the Covid still affecting that community) and teen engagement. By offering this programme, we are bringing the participating seniors to the Library space to interact with the younger generation to share their knowledge and talents. This increases socialization for both generations in a safe and welcoming space.

Contact: Chris Dorscht,, Milton Public Library Director, Customer Experience

Pima County Public Library

Civic Program/Service

We hold events with Arizona Humanities. Recent topics include affordable housing, eviction, and immigration. These events target the community and helping organizations (all audiences were in attendance). The events include roundtable discussions, Q&A, and action planning. We also host Community Resource Navigators from One Stop, USCIS, and the Department of Economic Security. They help people understand their rights and the resources available to them in the community, particularly regarding citizenship/immigration documentation. We are vote centers, host information from the League of Women Voters, host valet tax service centers, and work with the public defender's office to help people address issues with fines, fees, and paperwork to set aside convictions.

Community Need

There is so much! We hope to move our community forward in conversations that can be difficult or high stress. The library is a great place to do this. Additionally, helping organizations are closing or have closed their doors due to the pandemic. The community is looking to us (a trusted source) to meet their information needs and help them navigate the changes in the rules/laws.

Contact: Michelle Simon,, Pima County Public Library Deputy Director

Poudre River Public Library District

Civic Program/Service

As part of our strategic planning process, we did extensive community outreach over the summer to identify what the communities hopes, dreams, and aspirations are using the Harwood Institute's "Turning Outward" approach. We spoke with hundreds of people at numerous events across our district and identified seven themes that will inform our programming, services, and collections in the future.

Community Need

This effort was aimed at trying to determine what opportunities and priorities our district residents felt were important as we created a new strategic plan. This information will help us align our resources with community desires, as well as developing and strengthening partnerships with organizations that have expertise and capacity in the areas we identified.

Contact: Diane Lapierre,, Poudre River Public Library District Executive Director

Prince George's County Memorial Library System

Civic Program/Service

PGCMLS is a key partner for Prince George's County Health Connect, which promotes and facilitates affordable health insurance enrollment through the state exchange for local residents. We have partnered together since the Affordable Healthcare Act was passed, as the Library is viewed as an essential partner for reaching uninsured and under-resourced residents. Promotion efforts have included virtual and in-person information sessions, the distribution of bilingual health insurance enrollment flyers (including through curbside service in the first year of the pandemic when buildings were closed), and promoting health insurance enrollment on PGCMLS communications platforms. On November 14, we are hosting a joint kickoff for 2023 open enrollment that features the county director of social services, county health officer, executive director of the state healthcare exchange agency, and the mayor of the city of Hyattsville, which is a target community for reducing the rate of uninsured residents.

Community Need

During the COVID-19 special enrollment period, PGCMLS helped PGC Health Connect enroll 66,000 eligible uninsured residents, which was crucial for our community to move forward with pandemic recovery. This year we aim to enroll over 50,000 uninsured residents.

Contact: Nicholas A. Brown,, Prince George's County Library System Acting Co-CEO and COO for Communication and Outreach

Sacramento Public Library

Civic Program/Service

One of our more involved partnerships is with the Sacramento County Registrar. This relationship has become even stronger since the passing of the Voter's Choice Act in 2016. All28 of our locations have ballot drop-off boxes available for the 30 days prior to the election and14 sites have 4-Day Vote Centers. Staff and volunteers are very involved with the process throughout, ensuring that patrons (and the general public) are aware of voting locations throughout the month. On election day, all of our locations are open during voting hours (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.) with full library services available in order to ensure easy access to all voters. 8 of our busier sites are set up as ballot drop-off drive thrus. These sites are set up by our logistics team and manned primarily by volunteers. Our management team takes on several locations each to check in with them or help them out as needed. Election Day has become an"event" for Sacramento Public Library!

Community Need

Since 2016, the voting process has come under intense scrutiny. Simultaneous with the national discussion, California made it easier for people to vote through the Voter's Choice Act.Even with the increased presence of "voting watchers" our friendly staff and eager volunteers make sure that all voters have a positive and welcoming experience while voting. The library locations have consistently collected 24% of the County's drop-off ballots.

Contact: Cathy Crosthwaite,, Sacramento Public Library Executive Director

Saint Paul Public Library

Civic Program/Service

Read Brave Saint Paul is a citywide, intergenerational reading initiative that centers the power of books to ignite empathy and help us think of big ideas to build a better Saint Paul. Read Brave connects readers of all ages to one another through the five books, their authors, programs, and a call to action. In 2022 our theme was "community care" and included opportunities for community members to provide service to others in the community through volunteering on behalf of others, participate in community conversations and events. Specifically, we worked with a local artist to create collaborative art project at two libraries on "recipes for care," hosted workshops and talks with authors in local schools and for the public

Community Need

The need is to talk together as community members about complex topics in order to inform changes at the personal, system and policy level. In using books as the catalyst, we continue to demonstrate library relevance and integration with the topics that are most important to our community members and elected officials.

Contact: Maureen Hartman,, Saint Paul Public Library Interim Library Director

San Diego Public Library

Civic Program/Service

We have had various civic-related programs and services that include the following: 1. Mail Ballot Drop Off at all library locations targeting all voters with SDPL being the entity that collected the largest share of ballots in San Diego County for the 2020 Presidential Election. 2. The Rebellious Miss Breed: San Diego Public Library & the Japanese American Incarceration – funded by the California Humanities For All project grant In the Fall of 2021, the San Diego Public Library reflected on Japanese American experiences during World War II and after the war by exploring themes of social justice, activism, and the power of the written word. From September through December, the library hosted a series of programs and events to raise awareness and encourage discussion of historical and contemporary issues faced by marginalized voices, especially within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. The Rebellious Miss Breed also underscored the remarkable activism of Clara Breed, a San Diego Public Librarian, as she advocated on behalf of Japanese American children during and after wartime. The young library patrons, who were incarcerated in “internment camps” throughout the United States—exchanged letters, packages, and books with Miss Breed. These exchanges provided significant lifelines and consolation for the several thousand San Diego residents of Japanese descent who were incarcerated across the United States. The Rebellious Miss Breed was a series for the general public and included adult as well as youth programming. 51 programs, including a major exhibition in the Central Library’s Art Gallery and key partnerships with the Japanese American National Museum, the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego, and the Japanese American Citizens League, were hosted, and attracted 142,801 visitors. 3. Out of the Shadows: This initiative was designed to help raise awareness of sex trafficking in San Diego through informational events (i.e. panel of experts/survivors), trainings for all library staff and public, and created a teen peer advocate program where teens received training through a mentorship opportunity to help raise awareness by teen mentees creating presentations for schools where they could inform their peers, as well as create resource spaces where people visiting the library could find information and books about this topic. Targeted audience: library staff, youth, families, community stakeholders and community at large, and potential victims. 4. Books for Good Trouble: Social Justice Dialogues - This grant funded program offered opportunities for people of all ages to participate in social justice discussions covering topics such as representation, the gender binary, racism, police violence and the school to prison pipeline, womanism, immigration and unaccompanied minors, contributions of BIPOC communities, and others.

These discussions are inspired by books that highlighted these topics and also offers the opportunity for BIPOC authors and subject matter experts to lead these discussions. SDPL held 10 social justice dialogues for various age groups during the grant year and continues to host these quarterly as this program is now included in the annual programming budget.

Community Need

1. Greater accessibility to voting locations. Having mail ballot drop off at the libraries provided a close, familiar location for voters to return ballots and expanded the time frame and locations to participate in voting. 2. The program aimed to - Provide opportunities for the public to learn about a significant topic for San Diego, and the greater community - Create a platform for public dialogue - Offer opportunities for people with different points of view, life experiences, or cultural backgrounds to interact or connect with one another We aimed to address these needs by hosting expert-led lectures, providing a forum for the Japanese American community and their perspectives related to the incarceration, offer programming that spanned across all age groups, and including a critical component (such as Q and A) to encourage dialogue 3. Raising awareness in San Diego where sect trafficking is a prevalent crime and youth are a target. By educating people of Sex Trafficking and raising awareness not only of its existence in San Diego but to connect people to a variety of resources and experts that are available to help stop this crime, assist victims, and to form a strong community coalition to raise this awareness. 4.This program offered opportunities for public dialogue and learning about various social justice issues that impact our communities. It also offered engaging programs for the public to learn about new authors that are writing about these issues and offered a platform for BIPOC authors to connect their work to new audiences.

Contact: Ady Huertas,, San Diego Public Library Program Manager of Youth, Family, & Equity Services

The Ferguson Library

Civic Program/Service

There are a couple that should be highlighted. We offer an array of services for immigrants and new Americans. Our Civility in America Series, has offered the community to listen speakers who have excelled in their field of expertise and offers insight on what civility means. This series is winding down. Last May, Richard Harwood spoke on his latest report Civic Virus. He also held a session with community leaders. At the Mayor's Cabinet Retreat, the library was invited to facilitate a conversation around the Civic Virus. In October, Dr. Livingston spoke on his book The Conversation. While Library led, this talk, partially funded by the City, was part of Stamford Stands Against Racism's work. The Harry Bloch lecture series is for children and highlights U.S. History, in 2021 Andrew Aydin spoke on his graphic novel Run, which is a continuation of March by John Lewis.

Community Need

33% of Stamford residents are foreign born and 48% of the school population is Hispanic. The lectures try to bring together the community to discuss important ideas that impact our civic life.

Contact: Alice Knapp,, The Ferguson Library CEO

Toledo Lucas County Public Library

Civic Program/Service

Right now, our civic outreach is pretty straightforward in the fact that, in Ohio, libraries are able to register individuals to vote as well as mail in the voter registration form to the Board of Elections. Next year, we are revamping our civic literacy programming by offering community sessions on how to run for office. We also hope to launch a digital civic center where individuals can register to vote, review their ballot, find elected official information, and learn more about how to run for office.

Community Need

The majority of what I mentioned above is to launch next year. We hope to get more individuals, especially minority community members, interested in running for office.

Contact: Lucas Camuso-Stall,, Toledo Lucas County Public Library Director, Government Relations & Advocacy

Toronto Public Library

Civic Program/Service

TPL runs an ongoing programming series called On Civil Society. Here's how we describe the series: On Civil Society programs take you deeper into the issues affecting our world today and encourage audiences to take part in conversations where they can expect to challenge their own perspectives and learn from one another through civil discourse. Conversations this season focus on local, national and international issues and perspectives featuring leading experts and thinkers from all over the world on the most critical topics of our time. We're also casting a spotlight on two new On Civil Society streams that invite you to learn more, get involved and take action. Explore our Climate and Democracy series. We run approximately 15 programs a season (Fall and Spring) which are available in-person, online, and on demand. We also run "Civil Forums" for some of the events, prior to the main event. At these events, a moderator invites the public to share their thoughts, questions and personal stories related to the main program, to inform and provide a context for the main event. Our forums – like all of our public programming – are open to all members of the public. Anyone is welcome to join the conversation, and anyone can invite others to the conversation as well. We market our programs broadly, across all of our library channels (website, social media, email, branches). More information is available at

Community Need

We see a need to create opportunities for people to come together with others who have differing views and opinions and have civil conversations and debate around some of society’s most pressing issues and ideas – local, regional, national and international. We also want to create opportunities for people to engage with issues, and take action if they wish, so we design our On Civil Society programs to be interactive, and to provide information on how people can respond and take action, or learn more about the issues we discuss

Contact: Linda Hazzan,, Toronto Public Library Director Communications, Programming & Customer Engagement