Reflection on Hyperlinked Communities & Participatory Service

So many of the messages from the readings and videos over the past couple of weeks have deeply resonated with me; this is what libraries are truly about.

Yes, we all know that libraries are traditionally considered to be about books and more broadly about information, but libraries truly exist for the communities they serve. The books and the information are for the people. The services and programs are also for the people. If the people do not use these things, there would be no point for the library to exist.

Fortunately for us current and future librarians, many people do often turn to libraries for information (though probably mostly in the form of books still). In general, people often turn to other people for help, but usually only if they feel comfortable doing so or know that the person that they go to will be capable of helping them. To best serve its community then, a library needs to established itself as a safe, open, inviting resource that can help. Connecting with the members of its community is probably the best way to do this. I loved what Aaron Schmidt was saying in his article “Asking the Right Questions: The User Experience;” libraries need to get to know the people in their communities as people in order to figure out what their needs are and design programs, services, and policies to then meet those needs.

Even better news? People already form connections in so many ways, so a library can tap into that connection, such as through social media. The clever ways that various school, academic, and public libraries involved the members of their community is just inspiring to learn about! And the creativity! The Idea Box in the Oak Park Library became so much more than a simple room by involving the people who walked through the library doors. I absolutely love the concept of inviting people into the library to have fun, explore, mess around with different ideas, or share something with the world in a casual but collectively meaningful way.

Currently I am still working in the classroom, but one day I hope to transition to the high school library. When I do work in that hypothetical library for teenagers, I cannot imagine not implementing so many of these ideas. Getting input from the students and staff about its design and what is available at the library. Learning more about the students and staff as individuals in order to determine what else they might enjoy seeing or doing at the library. Creating spaces for students and staff to get creative and connect with one another at the library. All of these concepts would not only lead to the library being used and appreciated more, but most importantly, it would have an impact on the people in the school, the students and staff that the library exists to help.

One thought on “Reflection on Hyperlinked Communities & Participatory Service

  1. “People already form connections in so many ways, so a library can tap into that connection, such as through social media”

    Yes! Instead of starting something new like a virtual community, perhaps libraries should be looking for communities already in place — pop culture folks, readers, hobbyists, etc – and engage with them where they are, sharing resources and ideas.

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