Skip to main content

Living Democracy Initiative

Living Democracy Initiative

The UMD Libraries’ Living Democracy Initiative (LDI), made possible by a generous gift from the Ilona Modly Hogan Legacy Fund, advances democratic values and civic education and engagement in society. Learn more about how to get involved with LDI programming, including community discussions, educational programs, and teaching and research opportunities.

Get Involved

The Living Democracy Initiative is for everyone in the UMD community and all those who care about advancing democratic ideals. Be part of the movement to expand the conversation about democracy and civic responsibility and join us as we engage in the crucial work of protecting our democratic way of life.

Attend an event.

Join us for LDI workshops, speakers, and panel discussions covering a variety of topics related to democracy and civic engagement. Check back frequently for newly added events and sign up for our mailing list to be notified of new events.

Save the date! A collaborative symposium, scheduled for October 10, 2024, will highlight how learning about our shared political history can increase our understanding of current-day political challenges and inform our path forward. A digital exhibit of the Lawrence J. Hogan Sr. Archives, held by the University of Maryland Libraries, will be unveiled at this signature LDI event event. 

Stay tuned for more upcoming events to be announced soon. 

Save the date for the Living Democracy Symposium!

October 10, 2024 | Stamp Student Union, University of Maryland, College Park, MD

Safeguarding Intellectual Freedom: How to Counter Censorship and the Criminalization of Librarianship in America

Date: August 29, 2023

American librarians are increasingly becoming the latest targets in the political and cultural wars spreading across the country, part of a growing movement to ban books, censor ideas, and restrict educators’ ability to discuss race, gender, identity, and LGBTQ+ issues in the classroom. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Juno Dawson’s This Book is Gay, and Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, have all landed on recent censorship lists in 2022 alone, which the American Library Association (ALA) reports was a year that saw the “highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago.” 

How can freedom-to-read advocates and community members respond to counter these divisive strategies and rhetoric which portray libraries as spaces of indoctrination and librarians as villains peddling harmful literature? 

Inspired by recent scholarship, such as The Urge to Censor: Raw Power, Social Control, and the Criminalization of Librarianship (Paul T. Jaeger et al), and motivated by the turmoil facing ALA, with censorship proponents calling for conservative states to end their memberships in ALA and some ALA members calling for a bifurcation of the organization into “liberal” and “conservative” ideologies, the University of Maryland Libraries presents a virtual dialog among experts and scholars in the field, on Tuesday, August 29, 2023, from 3:00-4:30 pm ET, to examine the challenges facing academic and public libraries and explore the actions that can be taken to ensure libraries remain bastions of intellectual freedom for all.

Arturo Schomburg’s Information Legacy: A Discussion Featuring Dr. Vanessa K. Valdes

Date: October 4, 2023

The University of Maryland University Libraries and the College of Information Studies present, “Arturo Schomburg’s Information Legacy: A Discussion Featuring Dr. Vanessa K. Valdes.” Join us in welcoming Dr. Vanessa Valdes, author of Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Schomburg, as she discusses the curatorial and bibliographic significance of Arturo Schomburg’s career. Arturo Schomburg was a Puerto Rican-born Afro-Latino historian, writer, and collector who dedicated his life to caring for African history and culture. Considered a foundational figure in Black studies, his tireless activism has inspired scholars and activists worldwide. In 1926, the New York Public Library purchased Mr. Schomburg’s remarkable, multifaceted collection that is today known as the Schomburg Center for Research.

Sign up for updates.

Join the Living Democracy Initiative (LDI) mailing list to receive periodic email updates about LDI programs and events, research and teaching opportunities, the LDI Symposium, and other ways to get involved.


A gift to the Living Democracy 21st Century Symposium Fund for the Lawrence Joseph Hogan, Sr. Collection supports one of the Libraries' most exciting new initiatives. Your gift will help us host a transformative symposium to expand the dialogue on democracy.

About the Lawrence J. Hogan, Sr. Archives

The Lawrence J. Hogan, Sr. Archives are held by the University of Maryland Libraries and stewarded by UMD Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives. 

Lawrence J. Hogan, Sr., served as the United States Congressman for the 5th District of Maryland from 1969 to 1975 and was the only Republican Representative to vote in favor of all three articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. At the end of Hogan’s time representing the state of Maryland, he donated his congressional papers to the UMD Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA). They are an important part of the Special Collections’ archival records of Maryland elected representatives, belonging to the unique and popular State of Maryland archive. Including consequential Watergate-era documentation, the collection is of particular interest to scholars, students, and members of the public who want to understand the relationship between American democracy and the individual actors within our society, both past and present, who have played a part in defending and promoting our system of government. 

The initiative will make Hogan’s papers more accessible through digitization, the creation of finding aids, and an online exhibition. Additionally, the gift will fund a graduate assistantship and travel scholarships for researchers interested in using the Hogan papers and other Maryland political collections. The culminating Living Democracy Symposium in 2024 will mark 50 years since the Watergate Impeachment Vote and will explore lessons from this cataclysmic event for the 21st century.

The Living Democracy Initiative is led by Lae’l Hughes Watkins, Associate Director, Engagement, Inclusion, and Reparative Archives in UMD Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives. 

Other Libraries members of the LDI Advisory Group and/or Planning Committee are: Kenna Barrett, Chief Development Officer, Blaze Buck, Coordinator for Collection Strategies and Services, Lindsay Inge Carpenter, Head of Research Education, Nneka Chisholm-Edwards, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Joni Jones Floyd, Curator for Maryland & Historical Collections, Judith Kidd, Manager for the Dean's Office, Adriene Lim, Dean of Libraries, Eric Nils Lindquist, History, American Studies, Classics, and Religion Librarian, Yelena Luckert, Director of Research Teaching, and Learning, Daniel Mack, Associate Dean for Collection Strategies and Services, Kate Maloney, Director for Strategic Communications and Outreach, Douglas P. McElrath, Director for Special Collections and University Archives, Manuel Duran Mendez, Graduate Assistant, Gary W. White, Senior Associate Dean for Research and Academic Services, and Aaron Wilson, Government Documents Coordinator. 

Back to Top