Earlier this week, I made a short trip to Maastricht, Netherlands, with a family member who is visiting from the U.S. It was a timely trip for me because she is a photographer and social media manager, which gave me a chance to talk (through a lot of road trip hours) about the use of Instagram for creating community in the way we read about in Five ways libraries are using Instagram to share collections and draw public interest. That is definitely not an area of expertise for me, but she had a lot to share about the amount of engagement her clients get from social media, primarily Instagram, but also Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest, and even e-mail newsletters for those who are less engaged with social media.
I’m a reluctant social media user, but it gave me some perspective about meeting people where they are rather than where I want them to be, as mentioned by Schneider (2006). The opportunity to serve people who need it in so many different ways is exciting, but it’s also overwhelming; there are so many people to reach digitally, and to build such community online involves intentional engagement. I know it works, though; I love following the Allen County Public Library and both the U.S. and U.K National Archives for images from their collections, especially, but also love the interior photos and hearing about their events.
Of course, the online environment is just part of creating community. There were so many interesting examples in the readings about ways libraries are meeting people where they are and where they are needed, but I found that Do you want to dance? Inclusion and belonging in libraries and beyond especially relatable in so many ways, having been both an international student and someone who has moved to a country where I couldn’t necessarily find buildings by their signage (Lauersen, 2018). I love the ideas mentioned for integrating international students—my experience was exactly as he described, with international students creating their own communities and not participating in the larger one. l found the library’s outreach a wonderful example of inclusion and an amazing way to give students the kind of buy-in that helps build community. It may only be one way to reach potential users, but as was noted, inspiring feelings of belonging is a powerful way to start, online and for in person programming.
Lauersen, C. (2018, June 7). Do you want to dance? Inclusion and belonging in the libraries and beyond. The Library Lab. https://christianlauersen.net/2018/06/07/inclusion-and-belonging-in-libraries-and-beyond/
Schneider, K.G. (2006, June 3). The user is not broken: A meme masquerading as a manifesto. Free Range Librarian. http://freerangelibrarian.com/2006/06/03/the-user-is-not-broken-a-meme-masquerading-as-a-manifesto/
Williams, S. (2014, April 16). Five ways libraries are using Instagram to share collections and draw public interest. London School of Economics. https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/04/16/five-ways-libraries-are-using-instagram/