Los Angeles County Public Library






Skye Patrick, Los Angeles County Library Director

Sandra Gonzalez, General Librarian

Summer Moz, Los Angeles County Assistant Library Administrator February 2, 2021

Increasing Civic Participation through Civic Literacy

Libraries have the reputation for being the cornerstones of democracy and are impartial gatekeepers of information. Designing a new program that will build upon those strengths will be beneficial to both the diverse community of Los Angeles County as well as its stakeholders. This program will provide communities with the tools they need to increase their civic knowledge, become more actively engaged, and increase civic participation. Libraries will provide workshops and seminars and collaborate with organizations that will provide opportunities for patrons to volunteer in their communities.

Benefits of a Civics Program

Free programs and services provided by the library will help build people’s civic literacy. Libraries will have a more active role. Individuals will be offered opportunities to put their knowledge to use by participating in various civic activities such as volunteering as poll workers, political campaigns, running for office, and other ways to contribute to their communities.

Additionally, since libraries will need to collaborate with other nonprofits to help with programming, this will help to expand the library’s social capital. Expanding the library’s social capital will be beneficial to the organization as it will also provide connections for future collaborations. Creating a civics program will also give libraries the opportunity to focus on improving their role as educators and in finding ways to connect with community members, thus expanding their trust with the communities they serve.

Scope of the program The civics project will be implemented in 3 phases.

Phase 1:

e Feedback from community members. This will take place in the form or surveys. Outreach through social media and email, inviting patrons for coffee and donuts while they participate in completing questionnaires.

e Consult peer institutions who have created similar programs.

e US Census Bureau data on demographics can help us focus on communities that will benefit the most from these programs and services.

Phase 2:

e Develop a list of organizations and individuals who can donate their time to the program.

e Begin process of collaboration with organizations and survey staff on scheduling in order to fit the programs in library schedules.

Phase 3:

e Program/Seminar creation. Programs will be offered beginning once a month with the potential of being offered biweekly or weekly depending on demand.

e Programs and services offered online asynchronous or synchronous. Increasing Civic Literacy through Programming

Libraries have a social responsibility through their core values to create a more informed citizenry. Libraries should expand their role in civic engagement and provide patrons more opportunities to learn and become more civically engaged. Libraries can fill the gap by creating free programs, services, and volunteer opportunities.

e Workshops on various government functions, measures and propositions, registering to vote for newly naturalized citizens and first-time voters.

e Seminars for Naturalization and passport processing, running for local office, and becoming a poll worker.

e Volunteer Opportunities in political campaigns and nonprofit organizations throughout communities. Ease of access through collaboration with various organizations.

Prospective Completion

The Civics program is designed to be a part of the ongoing programming for the Los Angeles Public Library system with opportunity for growth and expansion in other counties. It is expected to be completed within the span of one year.


Creation of a Civics program will benefit both communities and library stakeholders, providing opportunities for patrons to learn and engage civically, while allowing libraries to increase their social capital and build a solid reputation that will allow them more opportunities to collaborate with other organizations and institutions.