The Ask Anything series at Portsmouth Public Library began with Robert Azzi’s program, Ask A Muslim Anything in January 2017. We then adapted this for Ask A Trans Person Anything, Ask An Immigrant Anything, and Ask A Person in Recovery Anything, each of which featured a moderated panel of New Hampshire residents from varying backgrounds who could speak about their experience.
Our goal with this series is to provide a safe and non-judgmental space for our community to ask questions they may otherwise feel embarrassed, inappropriate, or foolish asking in other social settings. Our speakers represent a wide range of experiences, and are able to knowledgeably and calmly answer any question that is asked in a civil and respectful manner.
At each of our past events, we have seen that people came with varying viewpoints, and often expressed disagreement, but always in a warm and constructive way. Many people have spoken to us afterward about the importance of, and appreciation for, these programs.
The Portsmouth Public Library mission states that we serve those who want to connect with our community and cultural heritage, and that we work to strengthen that community. We believe providing a space for these conversations serves our mission in multiple ways, and especially helps to bridge political, economic, social divides.