Mid-Continent Public Library Local Issues Project


When people need a safe, neutral space to deal with difficult issues, where do they go? More and more often, they go to their local libraries. The Mid-Continent Public Library took this role to a new level when it launched the Local IssuesProject in 2014. The library hired Consensus to help.

Consensus is guiding the first year of the project. It is helping the library find issues and frame the discussions. After building capacity, Consensus will step away and Mid-Continent will continue the work.

Consensus leads an issues team charged with choosing three issues each for panel discussions and deliberative forums. The team has conducted online and postcard surveys of library customers. One online survey produced 118 pages of ideas!

Consensus has trained library staff members to lead deliberative discussions. Next, we will train staff members in how to research and write a deliberative discussion guide. While many libraries use deliberation, very few produce their own guides on home-grown topics.

The first deliberative forum was on the living wage, with a discussion guide produced by Consensus.