Mary Minow discusses the role of Libraries in Our Democracy

Mary Minow, Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard and EPIC Advisor, was invited to discuss the vital role libraries play in a democracy at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center.  The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) “connects people to the riches held within America’s libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions.” The goal is to make all materials free and immediately available in digital format. The DPLA has compiled a vast collection of photographs, books, maps, news footage, oral histories, personal letters, museum objects, artwork, government documents, and more.

Ms. Minow highlighted how libraries still remain one of the most trusted institutions in our society and believes there are opportunities to use that trust to help educate the public on key issues.  For example, media literacy has been a challenge that several libraries have taken up. “At the grassroots level there are programs going on all the time to teach people media literacy,” Minow said.  She discovered that in rural areas people still trust and value librarians, but seem less trusting of big media outlets. However, Ms. Minow says work at the national level is also “inspiring” because the America Library Association has begun to craft media literacy pilot programs and will see how they work.

Listen to the entire discussion below. For more information on Mary Minow and on other topics, please visit