From the President of RUSA: Libraries and Local News: Expanding Journalism, Another User Service Grounded in Reference

Chris LeBeau


Always on the prowl for new user services, I was intrigued by a program held at my local public library in 2009 called “Democracy and Decline in Local Reporting.” The topic has stuck with me ever since. At the time, our city’s newspaper was experiencing severe financial challenges, which residents found alarming. With newspapers across the country in similar straits, the library assembled a panel to discuss alternatives for gathering and distributing local news to communities. Nearly ten years later, the situation has not improved much for local community news coverage. Thinking back to that library panel, I’ve decided to further investigate the impacts of, and possible solutions for, this problem. This piece attempts to reinvigorate a news initiative and promote a user service that has foundations in traditional reference. It is a service that offers opportunities for both public and academic libraries. The initiative is a community-centric public service centered on news.

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