Human connection is the stem of participatory service Through academic and public libraries, it has been an integral part of how individuals can use library spaces as a safe haven for their personal lives. The actions of human connection can vary depending on how one uses their space. Since I am currently working in a public library, it attracts people from all walks of life. Although looking through the landscape of libraries, technology has integrated itself into the mainstream outlook in libraries now. As all libraries have both physical and digital resources that all groups can learn from and use, it still becomes an issue of the human connection. Looking through the article, “The New School Library: The Human Connection to Digital Resources and Academic Success,” brings up the question of how students interact with each other in libraries now that digital resources are in play. Or, “Are libraries necessary today? These questions have been embedded in today’s usage in libraries, both public and private academic libraries.


The actions of human connection are something that can’t be replicated by any digital resources. In the article, The New School Library brings up a quote:

“They are a place for personal growth and reinvention, a place for help in navigating the information age, a gathering place for civic and cultural engagement, and a trusted place for preserving culture.” (Abarbanel et al., 2013, p. 70).

This quote speaks volumes because of how using libraries brings out the participatory service that is needed to create that human connection through the process of utilizing programs and spaces created by the libraries. Going along with the idea of participatory service, Doug Johnson, director of media and technology at Mankato Area Public Schools in Mankato, Minnesota, expressed,

“We need to stop thinking of the library as a grocery store—a place to “get stuff”—and start thinking of it as a kitchen—a place to “make stuff.”  (Johnson, 2013, p. 84).

As we look at libraries, Johnson’s perspective creates a new landscape where, instead of using the libraries for their basic necessities, the possibilities of integrating what libraries can offer can be endless because of the different resources that they provide. By doing this, it creates different spaces for individuals to use, and this will create a human connection amongst students and patrons alike. 


Ronni Abergel, a journalist and social change activist, is the creator of this space called the “Human Library.” His goal was to create a space where anyone could come and speak to another patron. What makes it interesting is that Ronni is trying to normalize taboos and stigmas in this space. Taboos and stigmas are often looked down upon because of their lack of acceptance in the world, but Ronni has created a space for them. This is where the true nature of human connection comes into play, where two random patrons are paired up and they are able to talk about anything that comes. Both patrons can learn about each other and about their past or their taboo, which society doesn’t approve of. 

When it comes to participatory service, libraries that have integrated digital and physical resources have created a new landscape for students and patrons to use as a safe haven or a space for students or patrons to come together and collaborate amongst each other. Following the participatory service, what comes out of the service is the human connection that is created by the library as the setting. What follows next are the programs that give them the space to interact with each other, and that’s where the human connection is achieved by interacting with students or patrons alike to create a relationship between two individuals to learn about each other. 


Abarbanel, E., Davis, S., Hand, D., & Wittmer, M. (2013). The New School Library. Independent School, 72(4), 68–74.

Creating the Human Library:Fighting taboos & stigma through dialogue | Ronni Abergel | TEDxBucharest. (2018, March 22). YouTube. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from

Johnson, D. (2013). The New School Library. Educational Leadership, 71(2), 84–85.