Civility Week lessons can help make world a better place

Starting today, the library is hosting a series of events related to common courtesy, manners and respectfulness during Champaign's Civility Week. Check our website for details and note: It's cool to be kind.

The activities begin today with our kickoff concert. David Howie premieres the new "Civility" song, written just for this celebration and initiative.

To prepare yourselves for the exciting activities all week — which run the gamut from manners to bullying to workplace mediation — check out a few of the following great titles.

For Tuesday's talk on workplace civility, pick up the customer service guide everyone wants to follow: "Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service" by the Disney Institute.

Several years ago, I attended a workshop based on this book that was simply outstanding. If your organization could stand to pick up some tips on better customer satisfaction and loyalty, then no one does it better than Disney.

The ultimate benefit from great workplace civility is repeat customers!

A consultant with a national following, Topper Steinman will be here Wednesday for a lively discussion on increasing our "civility quotient." To prepare for his talk, or maybe to keep our interest going long afterwards, try "The Meaning of Nice" by Joan Duncan Oliver and discover that the nice guy (or gal) CAN finish first.

Another option is "If It Takes a Village, Build One" by Malaak Compton-Rock. Using her own experiences in service and community, the author shares the benefits on a local, national, or global level that can come when the population is dedicated to compassion and service.

Also on Wednesday, Dorothy L. Espelage, Ph.D., will be here to talk about bullying prevention. Espelage wrote the foreword to a book in our collection, "Bullied: What Every parent, teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear" by Carrie Goldman. This important book reminds all of us how prevalent this epidemic is in our schools.

According to the author, "At least 25 percent of kids have been bullied online. One in five teens has been bullied at school. More than half of bullying behaviors will stop in less than ten seconds when another student intervenes." This is crucial information that society needs to know. Prepare yourself with some reading, then come listen to an authority in the field.

On Thursday, we have a panel of popular local experts here to talk about civility in politics and the media. After hearing their thoughts, check out a few titles from our collection.

"Mediated: How the Media Shapes Your World and The Way You Live in It" by Thomas de Zengotita is an intellectually stimulating work discussing how the media transforms our everyday lives in ways that we are not consciously aware.

In "Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age," Clay Shirky explains how technology is changing everything we once knew about collaboration and creative production.

And finally on Saturday we have two great programs, one on civility during divorce, and another on everyday manners for kids. I found the set of books by Kay West — "How to Raise a Gentleman" and "How to Raise a Lady" — to be indispensable.

Inside each one is an outline of expectations for respectfulness, and the ways in which to achieve it. As a parent, I give these books a big HIGH FIVE!

Wherever you are in life, I think it's obvious that there has been a shift to a sense of entitlement in society.

No matter where I am — a community park or a fancy restaurant — I see the little signs of disrespect creep into the most mundane of situations. Let's fight this. Let's work toward the common goal of making this the best place in the world to live and work. Let's start here, in our own backyard, and then watch it spread.

Kelly Strom is the collection manager at the Champaign Public Library. She orders books, magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and CDs.

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