The Library as Community space

By | October 21, 2014

I was most interested in the idea of the dual existence of the Library as a place for the community.  This weeks readings focused on how Libraries function, not just literally but also socially, and the kinds of things we expect from Libraries that go beyond the bare bones definition of what we expect from a Library as a place to find books. 

The structures of Libraries do not just organize and classify physical items and information, they also play a role in the community, and therefore also interact in the culture surrounding the information contained within the library. In Shannon’s piece Library as Infrastructure, she proposes that thinking about the Library through its interconnecting infrastructure, or, the multitude of networks and organization principals (both literal and social) that exist within a Library, allows us to understand not only the role Libraries play in our culture, but also what we can and should expect from Libraries as community institutions. From my personal experience, the Library (outside of an academic setting) is often a cultural center, a place for the community to come together and for public activities to take place, even at times acting in such capacity as a day care center or a space for continuing education. What will happen to the Library in this capacity if digitization of collections continue and  the physical location of the library is de-emphasized? And is this function of the Library a part of the original functionality designed for the library, or is it a function it has evolved to provide?

I am interested in learning more about the Library as a public institution, especially when it converges with both the education and the social. Especially in light of the idea that digital books or the internet could “replace” the library eventually, is the role of the Library as a safe community space in danger? Does the re-invented mini or pop up library help or subvert the traditional role of the library?

One thought on “The Library as Community space

  1. shannon Post author

    Thanks, Annie. What we’re finding is that both of these presumed “threats” actually translate into increased use of libraries. First, the library can never be reduced to its *contents* — so the Internet could never “replace it.” What’s more, given the persistent problems of (1) unequal access to digital resources for different populations and (2) the increasingly fractured, firewalled, proprietary digital terrain, we often turn to our libraries to provide these digital resources for us. They’re advocates for open access. And the use of libraries as community/event spaces is exploding.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *