Des Moines, IA Public Library

The Des Moines Public Library convenes a series of public forums using NIF guides. on a Saturday in October, November, January, February, and March using NIF guides. Librarian Laura Walth is assigned to provide programs for adults at the Central Library. She coordinates moderators and recorders for the forums at the library as part of her library programming time. By doing this the library does not need to take staff time for participation in the series of Civic Engagements at the Library. 

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  1. Laura Walth

    I am working on setting up a series of forums beginning in October and ending in March at suburban libraries. I’m working with Iowa Partners in Learning. We will continue to call it Civic Engagement at the Library.

    We did this for two years at the Central Library where I have been a reference librarian for over 22 years. Last year we moved the forums to one of the branch libraries. We thought it would be good to reach out to other libraries this year. Iowa Partners in Learning and the teachers who will be taking the week long course sponsored by the Writers’ Project at UNI will be involved in this project.

    The workshop teaches teachers how to use public deliberation and frame issues in the classroom. Two years ago a group of university faculty and staff members from Mexico joined the group to learn more about the process of deliberation to use in their community. These teachers are also learning how this process can be used as a teaching method in their classrooms. Last year a grade school teacher took this and implemented it in her second grade classroom. She is teaching her class how to participate without having to raise their hands to speak. In the process they also learn how to listen to other classmates before speaking.

    One of our Partners in Learning members has donated a grant that offers 3 hours of graduate credit from the University of Northern Iowa to the teachers who participate. I took this workshop two years ago and last year as a presenter I talked about how the library forums can be used for extra credit for high school students. The forum on Immigration and Bullying was our biggest draw of students. The Bullying forum issue was framed by the teachers taking the workshop. An article about this forum appeared in the Des Moines Register November 11, 2012 p. 2 in the Metro Iowa section, Group Shares Bullying Experiences, by Sharyn Jackson.

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