ALA adds preconference institute on Transforming Your Library into a Public Forum

Contact: Mary Ghikas


For Immediate Release

May 21, 2002

ALA adds preconference institute on "Transforming Your Library into a Public Forum"

Internet content, education, immigration, health care, international relations, national security - these are just a few of the issues on which members of any community may hold different opinions - based on different values. Civil discourse is vital to the health of a democratic society. Libraries - and librarians - are ideally positioned to play a vital role in nourishing civil discourse - within communities, on campuses, in schools and in a broad array of organizations.

The American Library Association (ALA) will conduct an intensive, two-day workshop to train librarians how to moderate forums that help their diverse communities approach many complex issues on June 13 and 14, during the ALA Annual Conference in Atlanta. Entitled "Transforming your Library into a Public Forum: Convening and Moderating a Public Issues Forum," the workshop will introduce the tools, methods and theory of deliberative forums developed by the National Issues Forums Institute and used in communities across the country.

Participants will experience a deliberative forum, discuss how issues are framed for deliberative discourse and learn how to convene and moderate deliberative forums in their communities. In addition, participants will think together about the role of libraries in promoting and sustaining civil discourse in a contentious world.

Workshop leaders include:

  • Taylor Willingham, a consultant offering training and consulting services for non-profit organizations. Taylor is a research associate for the Kettering Foundation and a board member for the National Issues Forums Institute. She has moderated over 200 forums and taught at over 30 Public Policy Institutes. She is former director of the Reading Program, the adult literacy service of the Santa Clara County Library, and stays close to her love for library literacy services as a member of ALA's newly formed Committee on Literacy.
  • Margaret Holt, a retired faculty member of the Department of Adult Education at the University of Georgia, an Associate for the Charles F. Kettering Foundation and a board member for the National Issues Forums Institute. She is a co-founder of the Jeannette Rankin foundation, a non-profit organization that awards scholarships to older women pursuing higher education. Her professional interests include technology (distance education) and learning, evaluation and program planning. Holt also has taught adult learning theory, program development, public policy and adult education, and instructional methods.
  • Michele Reid, Director of Libraries at Ripon College in central Wisconsin and current chair of the ACRL/DLS Instruction Committee. Reid has been involved with the Kettering Foundation and National Issues Forums as a convener and moderator since 1995. She was a member of the South Dakota NIF Steering Committee and served as the Kansas Public Policy Institute Coordinator and Director. In Wisconsin, she is organizing a statewide Public Policy Institute Steering Committee and planning for an upcoming institute at Ripon College, where the deliberative process is being integrated into the educational mission as part of the First Year Studies program.

The registration deadline is May 31, and participation is limited to 40. Cost of the institute is $225, which includes lunch on Friday, refreshments and materials. Background materials for discussion will be mailed to registered participants in advance. Participants are encouraged to review background materials prior to attending the institute. To register, please email Danielle Alderson, Registration will be confirmed and payment requested.

For additional information contact Mary Ghikas ( or Danielle Alderson ( in ALA Member Programs & Services, 1-800-545-2433 x2518.