In my pervious post I wrote about how as librarians we can use social media to bring communities together. Today as inspired by the ‘New Models’ module I will reflect on how libraries are bring communities together on the local level through new services . Throughout the module we see libraries going beyond books to give people in their communities an opportunity to use something, including bikes, kitchen tools, and sewing machines, without having to personally own them (Clark, 2015; Garrison, 2015; Lagace, 2014). By leading these objects libraries are doing more than just giving people a chance to use something they don’t own, but to also build community where they live. For example people who borrow the kitchen items, from the new private kitchen lending library in Toronto, are likely to be using the tools to host large gatherings where they can build relationships. In the case of the bike libraries in Yorkshire community members and businesses are working together to donate bikes to build up the ‘collection’.
As people connect and build a community, as they are doing through these new library initiatives, they are also building what Clay Shirky (2008) calls in Here Comes Everybody ‘social capital.’ Social capital is what bonds people together to help each other in a time of need. According to Shirky (2008) societies with strong social capital do well, while societies with weak social capital struggle. As people have stopped bumping into each other on the street with the advent of suburbanization and car culture, and being pressed for time stopped have joining community groups such as Rotary, among other changes, social capital in the U.S. is in decline.
By bring people together through new programs such as the ones Professor Stephens shared in the New Models module, as librarians we have an opportunity to promote social capital and help build healthy communities where people feel connected.
Clark, S. (2015, February4). Bike Library scheme looks to extend across Yorkshire. Retrieved from http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest-news/bike-library-scheme-looks-extend-across-yorkshire-155765
Garrison, E. (2015). Borrow a sewing machine? Sacramento Public Library to start loaning more than books. Retrieved from http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article8920145.html
Lagace, L. (2014, November 5). Toronto’s new kitchen library lets you borrow cooking tools. Retrieved from http://notable.ca/Torontos-New-Kitchen-Library-Lets-You-Borrow-Cooking-Tools/
Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody. New York: Penguin Books.