For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development

Free Library to Launch Civic Dialogue Initiative Titled Hear Me Out

PHILADELPHIA, September 29, 2020—The Free Library of Philadelphia is launching a new initiative aimed at connecting Pennsylvanians with each other through their local libraries in order to spark civic dialogue. The initiative, called Hear Me Out, will be conducted in partnership with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and will create digital conversation forums around topics such as education, climate, race, and economic inclusion.

“This initiative invites us to step out of our information bubbles and listen to the lived experiences of fellow Pennsylvanians we might never encounter in our day-to-day lives to discuss the urgent issues that impact each and every one of us,” said Andrew Nurkin, Deputy Director for Enrichment and Civic Engagement at the Free Library.

Hear Me Out arose from an understanding that combatting polarization and indifference across political and geographic divides rests in the ability for Pennsylvanians from all walks of life to be able to engage in authentic conversations about national and local issues that cut across partisan lines.

In addition to the Carnegie Library, the Free Library will partner with public libraries across the Commonwealth to create a network that includes those in cities, suburban, and rural areas. Through this network, Hear Me Out will host conversation in real time that center local, community-driven insight and experiences as participants consider the urgent challenges facing Pennsylvanians. The objective is to foster diverse community relationships across distances and differences that elevate collective understanding and action. This initiative is made possible by a generous grant from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation awarded to the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation.

“Public libraries are beacons of information and discourse whether you live in a large metropolis, a small town, or a rural area, and uniting these libraries in an effort to connect residents across the state serves that mission to further engage their patrons,” said Leslie M. Walker, Interim Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The first event of the Hear Me Out series will take place October 27 at 5:30 p.m., and will focus on Pennsylvanians relationship with elections. Titled “Does My Vote Count?” the session will explore personal and familial experiences with voting as it relates to trust in the voting system. All Hear Me Out virtual events are free and open to any Pennsylvania resident.

Hear Me Out is a two-year project, with future events currently being planned for December 2020 and January 2021. Future events in the “Hear Me Out” series will be posted on


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850