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The Citizen Solution

Posted on Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

My copy of Harry C. Boyte's "The Citizen Solution:  How you can make a difference"  just arrived.  I requested it because Boyte is coming to my campus in April, and I plan to go hear him speak.  I'm only on page 15, but I've already found a passage that resonates very deeply for me. "Government can generate leadership, resources, tools, and rules.  But officials are not the center of the civic universe, nor is government the only location for democracy.  Democracy is a way of life rooted in living communities; it is a work in progress." How do we teach our students about being active citizens?  How can we as librarians contribute to this mission, especially if we don't teach our own classes and we're invited into the classroom only once?  Of course information literacy plays a role in being an active, engaged citizen in terms of informing oneself before voting. Another quote I've been seeing a lot lately on Facebook and other social media sites is really resonating, as well:  "Every time you spend your money, you're casting a vote for what kind of world you want."  (author Anna Lappe). Being mindful spenders and critically thinking about how your actions affect others is also part of being a good citizen locally and also globally.  But again, if we're only with students for 50 minutes to help them with their research for a specific paper, how do we get this message across?  Should we try to?  This is what I try to accomplish in my service-learning classes, but I'm certain there are other ways...Ideas?  Please share!