Crossing community divides

16 Aug

The library or archives is, as you all know, very underrated in terms of divide-crossing. Perhaps not so much the public library, but all other forms of libraries are overlooked and undervalued in terms of the way they contribute to their parent organization.

The really neat thing about libraries (I’ll go with academic, since I work in a college library) is that everyone at least goes through it. It can serve as a unique type of hub for community that has nothing to do with the programming it offers or the materials it has in the stacks. A library can reach out through community service, meeting community needs while adhering to a mission statement.

Most mission statements include something about the community and bringing together people and resources. Community service can absolutely meet this goal, and the onus isn’t necessarily on the library. Various departments, or the school as a whole, can use the library to reach out to local charities and provide either space (in the library) or volunteers (culled from staff and patrons) for events those charities organize.

At the end of the day, you’ve paired people with resources. Isn’t that what it’s all about? And aren’t libraries embracing ever-more non-traditional resources to incorporate into their collections? Aren’t we trying to create community spaces within our buildings, and why can’t that be donated or shared?

Some food for thought, and something I’ll probably revisit, as my library is currently working on behalf of our school, along with representatives from other departments, to implement a program just as I’ve described above.

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