Enhancing Civic Knowledge/Inspiring Political Engagement: The Role of Public Libraries in Civic Participation

  • Donna Cohen
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For the past several months I have been conducting “civic education” workshops under the umbrella title: Civics for Adults—To Enhance Civic Knowledge and Inspire Political Engagement. I doubt there is anyone in the library community who is not concerned about the public’s level of civic understanding, political discourse and civic engagement. As Robert Putnam pointed out in his book Bowling Alone, the cohesive function of social and civic groups—as with the simple bowling league—has withered, and along with the demise of those groups a correlative decline in political activities like voting. Public libraries should be primary instruments for civic education in the community. It is a role that can be well filled by public libraries. Bonus—it provides a rationale for increased funding. Public libraries can make better citizens. It’s as simple as that!

Author Biography

Donna Cohen

A teacher and librarian, Donna Cohen is now focused on presenting non-partisan workshops for adults that fill in gaps in civic and political understanding and that encourage critical evaluation of information. She is actively involved in various civic/political projects. From 1996 to 2014, under the name D. L. Cohen Information Services, as a consulting and freelance librarian, she conducted information needs assessments, created virtual and physical libraries, provided website usability testing and evaluation, and designed website architecture.

How to Cite
Cohen, D. (2017). Enhancing Civic Knowledge/Inspiring Political Engagement: The Role of Public Libraries in Civic Participation. Oregon Library Association Quarterly, 23(1), 9-12. https://doi.org/10.7710/1093-7374.1884