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Civic Engagement Initiatives

Free Library of Philadelphia

Contact Name: Autumn McClintock / Adam Feldman, /
Type of Initiative: Civic Engagement  


The Free Library of Philadelphia has embarked on a multifaceted approach to grow civic engagement and spread the word that we are an inclusive place for all citizens, including assembling a group of committed staff who share resources and seek the best ways to serve the needs and meet the concerns of the public. Following are highlights of our efforts, so far:

Inclusivity statement This statement, inspired by and based loosely on ALA’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion statement, is featured on our website, demonstrating the Free Library’s commitment to being a hub for information, engagement, and education for all.

Center and Deputy Director for Community and Civic Engagement A newly created department within the Free Library will seek to enrich the lives of citizens through civic dialogue, cultural engagement, community participation, and the free exchange of ideas through comprehensive programming and key partnerships.

Civic Engagement Fair On January 20th, the Free Library invited nearly 30 local social service, non-partisan political, and civics-based organizations to share their work with the public, including the ACLU of PANationalities Service Center, the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Several hundred community members attended.

Author Events Our lauded Author Events series brings poignant, of-the-moment conversations to the public, engaging in meaningful dialogue with today’s most celebrated voices. Of particular note:

February 1: Michael Eric Dyson | Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America

February 2: Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin | Rest in Power: the Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin 

Black History Month

The past, present, and future of the diaspora of people of African descent are celebrated and under study throughout the year, but February is the busy summit of this work. Broad programming sparks the kind of conversation and understanding necessary to tackle the larger civic questions surrounding us.


February 6: Monday Poets features outstanding poets of color who frame this long sweep of history in verse. February 13:  Mysterious Travelers jazz series debuts a concert-length exploration of the Reconstruction Era Freedmen’s Bureau based on research the composer conducted with librarians.  

February 21: Zen’s Approach to Overcoming Racism – a panel discussion exploring this philosophical approach. February 22:  Remixing Colorblind is a documentary film on the US education system’s reproductions of race and racism, along with a panel of activists who will discuss the film and its implications.