Communities

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you are having a lovely day and, if you are in the United States, have a lovely Memorial Day weekend planned. I plan on accomplishing a lot of relaxing during the weekend in order to have energy for the last bit of the spring quarter. I just want to talk a bit about communities today and how important archives and libraries are (or could be) in fostering communities.

Public libraries seem to get the lion’s share of press when it comes to libraries fostering spaces, resources, services, and events that increase community involvement and interaction. However, academic libraries and archives can also be extremely important places for fostering community spirit among library and archives users. But it seems that we are not as pro-active on the whole about demonstrating our value to the community as public libraries. I know that my library could do a lot better at reaching out to students and getting them involved with changes in the library. One of my projects this summer will be working on cheap (read: free) ways of doing outreach and getting students involved. Our library is “the heart of the campus” mainly because it is open when nothing else is on campus, but I don’t think that students really feel “ownership” of the library and that’s a problem for engagement.

In the latest issue of C&RL News there was a great article by Gfeller, Dutterfield-Nagy, and Grignon, Imagine: A student-centered library, which described the Fogler Library’s outreach and marketing campaign that heavily involved students. The graphics they produced were awesome, prominently featured students, and would be easy to replicate at other university libraries given a bit of time and a little bit of money for printing posters. Just think of the fun of having students involved with the photography and designing of the posters, as well as creating tie-in events using mobile technologies, QR codes, and other student-led, student-driven activities. There is so much room for engagement and increasing the interaction with users in academic libraries. We can foster community, but we need the time and support to do it.

While archives might seem like a world away from public libraries and academic libraries in terms of fostering community, I would argue that they can also be at the heart of communities. I study community archives and will hopefully be sharing some of my research in the near-ish future with a wider audience because I’ve not finished up all my work yet. But in the meantime, I can say that community archives are hugely important for community history, memory, and public programming. And, most community archives operate on a shoestring budget, so they have many ideas to offer libraries on how to get things done when money actually is a huge object.

Anyway, just some food for thought. How does your library or archives engage with your community members? How do you make sure that people feel connected and involved with your library or archives? I’d love to hear suggestions in the comments as I work with our community members over the coming months.

I wanted to share this photograph of a post-it note I found affixed to one of the water fountains on campus because it made me smile. Unexpected messages of kindness and positivity are always welcome.

Surrounded by True Friends Post-it

Also, for a short work break, check out anatomy of a mashup: Definitive Daft Punk for one of the coolest visualizations I’ve seen in a long while. Plus, the music sounds awesome.

Have a wonderful day, a fabulous weekend, read a lot, and I’ll be back next week with more thoughts on libraries, archives, and technology. Allons-y!

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