Library Corner: Bridge the divide with dialogue |

Library Corner: Bridge the divide with dialogue

By Polly Gallagher
GLCD executive director

“Dialogue and Exchange” was the title of last week’s Ted Radio Hour podcast. The discussion focused on the reality that polarization in ideological views has increased over the years. In our modern society, there are fewer opportunities for individuals to bridge the divide and have thoughtful conversations with people who don’t share their views.

What better place to highlight the role of public libraries.

The Library Bill of Rights was initially adopted by the American Library Association in 1939, and it remains the cornerstone of Grand County Library District. The Library Bill of Rights asserts that, “all libraries are forums for information and ideas.”  When selecting resources for the Library District, balancing the collection is the driving force. 

The Freedom to Read — part of the Library Intellectual Freedom & Ethics Statements — proposes: “It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.”

“We strive for balance when ordering materials for GCLD,” said Heidi McNinch, Library Resources Specialist. “If there is never contention, then we are not doing our jobs properly.”

Tallie Gray, director of Library Resources, added: “‘How to have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide,’ by Peter Boghossian, was a requested purchase for our collection. Such requests, along with the popularity of The Great Decisions Program, remind us that diversity of views can create a harmonious community and be a component for growth, depending upon how we listen, communicate and interact with each other.”

In this age of division, it’s a worthwhile endeavor to consider reading a book you normally wouldn’t. Consider issues that interest you, and then use your library to find resources with points of view that differ from your own.

Having a conversation with someone who seems different from you is another suggested strategy to bridge the divide. Coming up on Wednesday, Aug. 7, you will have the opportunity to do so through The Great Decisions Program. Hosted by GCLD, the discussion group is open to all and will dive into the most critical global issues facing America today.

The program, created in 1954 by the Foreign Policy Association, was designed to promote face-to-face, active and informal conversation. Topics selected are politically charged, from global migration to cyber conflict to U.S. and Mexico partnership. The program runs for eight consecutive weeks, held Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. at the Fraser Valley Library.

This forum is an excellent opportunity for people of differing opinions and backgrounds to come together to discuss and learn from each other. A moderator will be present to guide the discussion and to assist the group in a forward-moving, productive manner.

To register or learn more about idea-exchanging opportunities supported by our libraries, go to You can register for Great Decisions under the Programs tab. Space is limited, so register early to claim your spot.

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