By Lane Gwinn
The Times 

Civility Café comes to Dayton to talk about books in libraries


DAYTON—The Friends of Dayton Memorial Library is hosting an innovative evening of conversation on Thursday, March 7, from 6:45 p.m. to 9 p.m. Set up in a café setting, the event for Columbia County residents will be held at the Columbia County Fairgrounds Pavilion in Dayton.

The topic of the evening’s discussion will be “Books in Libraries,” exploring the challenges facing the public and school libraries in Columbia County. The Walla Walla Civility Project (WWCP) will provide the format and facilitate the event designed to enhance personal and community civility in the county.

The WWCP held a similar event in Walla Walla on September 27, 2023, at the Walla Walla High School Commons. Dayton resident Tanya Patton attended the Walla Walla Community Civility Café and described the event as well-structured, intentional, and thoughtful. There was no agenda in facilitating the conversations: it was not about changing people’s minds or problem-solving.

Patton said, “I came away feeling refreshed. The questions about books in libraries were a vehicle to help people practice how to speak to one another.” She said one of the questions was, “How do you balance moral education and intellectual freedom; are both important?”

Patton felt there was a good cross-section of opinions at the event.

At the Dayton event, participants will form smaller groups, seated at tables where hosts from WWCP will aid discussions to one of three questions about books in libraries. The hosts will help draw out speakers, promote listening, and ensure anyone who wishes to speak can. After fifteen minutes, the participants will break into new groups, move to a new table, and discuss the next question.

Following the three 15-minute sessions, the hosts will take two minutes to synthesize what they heard at their table for all three questions. Patton said the hosts at the event in Walla Walla used the two minutes to pull out salient descriptions in a succinct manner.

The Friends of the Dayton Memorial Library hope this exercise in civility will help the community to come together, speak peacefully, respectfully, and listen.

The Walla Walla Civility Project posted the following description of civility on its website:

What is civility?






What it does not require:

•Giving up beliefs

•Being passive

•Staying silent

•Backing down


•Avoiding conflict

Keys to Civil Conversation:

•Say what’s on your mind respectfully

• Listen to the other person with the goal of understanding

• Thank them for listening to you

More information about the project is available at


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