The one-hour PBS documentary special Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness screened Monday during ALA in New Orleans, in advance of its September 21 national broadcast. The preview screening was part of Not In Our Town’s outreach to libraries nationwide, to invite them to use the film and related resources for free community screenings and other public programs during Not in Our Town Week of Action, September 18–24, and beyond. “Our immediate goal is to alert libraries to this opportunity now, so they can request materials and begin planning events now if they are interested,” says Libby McInerny, director of strategic partnerships and development of the “Not In Our Town: Stop Hate. Together” campaign.
Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness is about a town standing together to take action after anti-immigrant violence devastates the community and thrusts residents into the international media spotlight. The film follows Patchogue, New York, Mayor Paul Pontieri, diverse community stakeholders—including the local library—and residents as they address the underlying causes of the violence, work to heal divisions, and implement long-term programs to ensure everyone in their village will be safe and respected.
“We are eager to connect with local libraries nationwide because we know that libraries are safe, neutral spaces in communities where everyone is welcome,” says McInerny. “In so many towns, they also serve as vital links to the community for many immigrant residents. Through public screenings and conversations, libraries can help localize the story in the film, in order to highlight their services and role in the community, and to work with community partners to discuss local concerns and actions to prevent intolerance,” she told American Libraries. “We are ready to support requests from libraries now!”
McInerny also says the campaign is finalizing a short video that focuses exclusively on the role of the public library in Patchogue, New York, and features paralibrarian Gilda Ramos, who heads up the library’s services and outreach for immigrant residents. She suggests four ways libraries can participate in the national community engagement campaign:
- Schedule a screening and discussion of Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness at your library during Not In Our Town Week of Action, September 18–24.
- Encourage community partners to host a screening event at your library in September and beyond.
- Promote and participate in a “One Community/One Book” club.
- Submit your ideas, stories, and event announcements to the Not In Our Town project. They will be added to the project website, and your library might be featured in a future Not In Our Town video story.
To request a free DVD of the film and accompanying screening materials, visit the website and click on “Host a Screening and Discussion.” You can also find suggested book titles for “One Community/One Book” clubs, along with other community resources on the site.