Journalism and Libraries: “Both Exist to Support Strong, Well-informed Communities”

How librarians are teaming up with journalists to promote media literacy, spur civic engagement, and even take on reporting projects

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In Weare, New Hampshire, a small town about 45 minutes from the state’s southern border with Massachusetts, the local newspaper is largely a one-man show. Michael Sullivan is de facto publisher and editor in chief as well as reporter, layout designer, crosswords creator, printer, and deliveryman. (The one thing he doesn’t do is photography.)

But Sullivan is quick to tell anyone who asks: he’s no journalist. Rather, he’s a librarian—just one who happens to run the only publication dedicated to covering his town and its 8,966 residents.

Sullivan is director of the Weare Public Library, where he—with some help from his fellow librarians—produces Weare in the World, a weekly publication that aims to fill part of the void left when the quarterly Weare Community News, shuttered in October 2016. “It wasn’t much of a newspaper to begin with, but when that thing closed down, it really left us with nothing,” says Sullivan. “The regional papers around here don’t pay attention to a little town like this, and the one local paper [The Goffstown News, a small weekly serving communities northwest of Manchester] that was covering us pulled back and stopped covering our area. We were left with no news outlets at all.”

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