Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2022

Degree Type

Capstone - Open Access


Melissa Nemon


The United States is experiencing deep divisions and lack of political will to address inequities impacting people’s lives. Pathways to convergence are needed to build bridges amongst community members for solidarity and community action to address these. Civic dialogue in Third Spaces is a method for cultivating understanding across differences to make change possible. Public libraries possess democratic missions committed to equitable access to resources, open exchange of ideas, and self-empowerment. Public librarians facilitate civic dialogue and engagement; little scholarly attention is given to their efforts. This project brought together public librarians interested in civic dialogue to explore understandings of public librarianship in the context of Democratic Professionalism through concepts of social capital and Third Space. Through collaborative activities assessing library assets, their connection to cultivating Third Spaces and social capital, and a World Café dialogue simulation, all participants reported gaining new insights about civic dialogue. All participants expressed a belief in public libraries’ capacity for Third Space, an increased interest in tracking the benefits of civic dialogue they facilitate, and a likelihood to address barriers to engagement. Workshops for librarians and community partners addressing barriers to civic dialogue in public libraries and preserving Third Space will support participatory democracy.