The Hyperlinked Community speaks to me. It is the main reason I want to be a librarian. I want to be part of an important movement or profession that will connect people and communities. In my introductory blog post, I mentioned that I am very interested in the many dilemmas (positive reframe = opportunities) presented by the digital divide. One of which is exclusion. A hyperlinked community is the antithesis of an exclusionary environment or community. The potential of libraries to build community through programming, technology, outreach, and the creation of safe and supportive environments, is infinite. So, I ask myself. What can I offer? What can I bring to the table? Jessamyn West’s library talk, “21st Century Digital Divide” was so relatable. I am a jack of all trades with serious concerns about the digital divide. While I know enough about technology to help those who struggle, I also know that I am not the most technologically inclined person. And, with that admission, I know that I will always need to play in the sandbox, and that is okay, because I also realize that a librarian does not know everything, but has an innate and/or cultivated ability to connect people to the information, materials, and to the other people they may need.
In Andy Havens’ article “From Community to Technology…and Back Again (part 1)”, he refers to the book “The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion.” I didn’t read this book, but I am drawn (pardon the play on words) to this quote from the book as applied in Havens’ article. “Pull…[is] the ability to draw out people and resources as needed to address opportunities and challenges.” I love that. To “draw out.” This is what I aspire to. I want to work in a community where I can help “draw out” its needs and help meet them.
Here is an example of how a small library created an opportunity to connect with its community and to connect people within the community to each other. I learned about this library when I wrote my first paper for library school on the digital divide. A small library in Alaska paired with the Chilkoot Indian Association, and with grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services created a technology education program. The program taught teens specific technology skills that they in turn would share with less technically inclined members of the community. Read more about the program at Haines Borough Public Library. The outreach potential is significant.
I have often pondered why I have not seen more libraries collaborating with local high schools to build similar programs. What a great way for students to complete volunteer service hours. At least two local community libraries in my area are located next to senior living buildings. I can’t get past the potential community connections. Did you ever hear of the Cyber Senior documentary? This is a great example of connecting people and meeting needs. Here is the trailer.
Oh. Why is the title of my blog post, My Dad Helped Build a Library? Because, my dad did help build a library. He was an electrician who helped build the library in the community where he raised his family. He was very proud of that fact. My parents loved the library. They found great value and great solace in its walls. resources, and programs. When I had the opportunity to work in that library, my father would visit me and point out all the lights he installed. I think he had forgotten that he showed me those installations when I was a child. I didn’t care. I enjoyed the fact that he felt so connected to the library.
It has been 12 years since my father passed away. My mother lives in a new community and frequents a different library. Amy Stoll’s article, “The Healing Power of Libraries” was so spot on for me as she connected me to the love of my current hometown library and the memories of my childhood library. Deerfield Library was recently renovated. I have not been inside since the completion of the renovations. To be honest, I am a little afraid. I am afraid that the lights my father was so proud of are gone. One thing that will never be gone is my connection with libraries. The connection nurtured by my parents.
These days, my husband and I often take an evening stroll through our town. We stop at the library to check out movies, CDs, or books. We love to see how it is hopping. Never a dull moment. I hope that others (those who don’t or rarely visit the library) will stop by and see what’s available. And, if they don’t, I hope I will be part of a solution to the disconnect.
Hagel, J., Brown, J. S., & Davison, L. (2010). The power of pull: How small moves, smartly made, can set big things in motion. New York: Basic Books.