In the winter of 2018, I had the pleasure of hosting a series of Climate Change Conversations workshops for Massachusetts Library System members presented by Madeleine Charney, Research Services Librarian, at the W.E.B. DuBois Library at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, during her sabbatical. The workshops provided a valuable opportunity for librarians to become leaders in increasing dialogue in our communities, specifically around the topic of climate change. I am very excited about how this approach can be used as a civic engagement approach for librarians to host transformative community conversations.
Tell us about your Climate Change Conversations workshops.
Madeleine Charney: This past spring, while on sabbatical from the UMass Amherst Libraries, I offered a five-hour training, “Facing the Future: Facilitating Climate Change Conversations in Your Library” in each New England state. There was a mix of public and academic librarians in attendance with a few trustees, Friends of the Library and non-profit staff members (from Cornerstones of Science) sprinkled in. In all, I engaged with 106 trainees. My goal was to empower librarians (and their allies) to invite patrons to explore the “wicked problem” of climate change on a heart level and in a non-threatening environment. Modeling a World Café format, we gathered in small groups to answer questions such as “What gives you hope regarding climate change?”, “To whom would you turn in your local community in the event of a climate change crisis?” “What tools (inner and/or outer) would you activate in the event of a climate change crisis — to support yourself and others in your community?” and “What do you fear re: climate change?” Continue reading