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About the California Library Dialogues

In 2018 the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries created deeper engagement with public libraries in California through the creation of the California Library Dialogues. The California Library Dialogues included a series of local convenings (“community dialogues”) that took place in Grass Valley (Nevada County), Stockton and Palo Alto with funding provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and administered by the California State Library. The California Dialogues also included a statewide convening on gigabit network use in California public libraries, held in Sacramento and funded by a grant from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation (“the Sacramento conference”).

The Community Dialogues

The community dialogues included a cross-section of local leaders focused on aligning goals across the community and leveraging library partnerships to generate creative and innovative pathways toward addressing those goals. These full-day roundtables explored how to nurture and grow local cultures of innovation that build upon the unique assets and character of the library. The roundtables conceptualized ways to boost civic literacy and provide pathways for civic engagement, early literacy and family services, lifelong learning and career readiness, connections between job candidates and employers, and accessing health information and services.

The reports of the California Library Dialogues identify models of innovation and partnerships that are working well, recommendations to strengthen existing initiatives, and proposals to advance development of new partnerships that tap the knowledge and information expertise of public libraries and their networks. These reports are available at

Beyond Connectivity Conference

The Sacramento conference—Beyond Connectivity: Gigabit Network Use in California Public Libraries—took place in Sacramento and explored how to advance the development and uptake of innovative applications for gigabit connectivity in California public libraries in ways that help to achieve key state and local priorities. This included priorities in education, adult learning, equity and civic participation. Many California public libraries want to leverage their CENIC connections to help their communities embrace the future, but they recognize that bandwidth alone is not enough; they want help defining and navigating new pathways to get the most out of these networks. Thus, the agenda explored:

  • How libraries currently are using CENIC bandwidth for new digital programs for their patrons and communities
  • The factors beyond better bandwidth that allow libraries and communities to take advantage of CENIC’s gigabit connectivity
  • The challenges of adopting innovations in broadband use including the distinct challenges of rural libraries and ways to push past obstacles
  • New policies, partnerships and mechanisms for accelerating uptake and innovation and for closing the “broadband-imagination gap” in the use of CENIC by public libraries across the state