Many of the readings in the “Hyperlinked Communities” module really resonated with me. I have worked in a public library for more than a decade. As someone who grew up as a regular library user and avid reader, I was initially happy to work in a public library, but it did not feel like a calling, or something that I was passionate about. It wasn’t until after I had worked in libraries for a while, and had gotten to see the positive impact that they could have on people’s lives that my feelings about libraries began to change. Now I am here, in the MLIS program, because I do feel passionately about the value of libraries. Much of the value that I see, in terms of what libraries can provide, has to do with libraries as community-building institutions.
Christen Lauerson (2018) writes about the notion of inclusion in libraries and how valuable providing a feeling of inclusion to the public can be. He uses an example that most of us have probably encountered (whether in public libraries or academic libraries) of students who come to the library to do their schoolwork. Presumably, many of these students could easily stay home and complete their work, but when they venture out to the library, they are a part of the community in a way they are not when they stay home and do their work. Lauerson (2018) explains, that “when they sit at that reading hall, alone but together, and look around to all their fellow students, they feel a shared identity of studying and learning, they feel that they belong.”
This is just one example. I think that all kinds of people visit libraries every day, seeking community, whether it is families, tweens on their own, elderly folks, etc. Amy Stolls, in writing about the library as a healing space (as in the aftermath of traumatic experiences within communities) addresses the power that libraries can have in a difficult moment in time. But I was also struck by what she writes about the everyday power of a library, as a “free and welcoming… safe, calming, communal space to any who enter,” (Stolls). She adds that it is not simply the space that contributes to this atmosphere, but it is also the books, which are inherently present in libraries. Stolls writes, “books teach us to be patient in a fast-paced, quick-fix world. They remind us that others have insights worth paying attention to, that there is beauty in our shared language, that in our struggles we are often not alone. They help us heal.”
- Context Book: Palaces for the People
- Reflection Blog 3: The Hyperlinked Public Library