Cedar Falls Public Library- A Power of Libraries Story
Starting in 2017, librarians from the Cedar Falls Public Library found there was a need to increase social awareness of community issues. In an effort to create educational opportunities for their patrons, the library created a program titled the “Cultural Literacy” series.
The Cultural Literacy Series invites speakers from diverse backgrounds and experience to come and speak on specialized topics. These sessions are meant to not only educate, but also encourage discussion and give individuals a safe place to have their questions answered. Topics that have been included in these sessions are LGBTO+ issues, local racial diversity, coping with grief, disability awareness, mental health awareness, overcoming racial bias, dreamers and DACA, Immigration, religious diversity and many more.
The library’s goal is to be neutral when presenting each topic, and to provide a place where everyone feels safe and comfortable to share their ideas and opinions. Sheryl McGovern, former library director noted that, “The library wasn’t promoting a particular point of view, they were opening a conversation so that people in the community could have a civil discourse… everyone was welcome to discuss their viewpoint.”
“We’re trying to represent as many people as we can,” said Jessica Bamford-Love, one of the librarians in charge of running the program.
Patrons have reacted positively and have thanked the library for this program. Community impact and awareness continues to grow, with as many as 82 people at one event. The Cedar Falls Public Library has been awarded the Power of Libraries award based off of their ability to see a problem in their community and create a program targeted at resolving that problem.
“We are making a difference in our patron’s lives,” said Erin Thompson, a librarian who works with the program. “That’s why I believe in the power of libraries.”