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Transforming Libraries, Building Communities

The Community-Centered Library

Julie Biando Edwards; Melissa S. Robinson and Kelley Rae Unger

This book is for those moving their library beyond places to find information. Written by practicing public librarians and an academic librarian with an interest in public libraries, the book focuses on how public libraries can become more community centered and, by doing so, how they can transform both themselves and their communities. The authors argue that focusing on building community through innovative and responsive services and programs will be the best way for the public library to reposition itself in the years to come.

Repositioning the library acknowledges that information is in abundance in contemporary life. And while accessing information will always be at the heart of what libraries do, it isn’t the only thing they do. It may not be, in the future, even the most important thing that they do. This book encourages librarians to admit that our role has evolved and to reframe the discussion so that it is about what we actually can do – play an essential role in meeting community needs and building strong and vibrant local communities. The authors argue that repositioning libraries as community centered institutions is a responsibility. Libraries bring people together. They create community, and they also create mini-communities – everything from book groups to writing circles to new citizen groups to linguistic or ethnic communities reflected in programming and in collections. These mini-communities help provide fellowship and foster relationships amongst the group members, but also, because they exist in the public place that is the library, help the larger community recognize and learn about the mini-communities that create the larger community. This is the work of libraries.

The book is divided into three parts which include explorations into the importance of the community centered library, practical advice on making your library more community centered, and a showcase of community centered library programs, services and initiatives across the United States. A special focus of the book is on how community development literature and practice can inform librarianship, with an emphasis on Asset Based Community Development principles. The book looks at how community centered libraries build individual and community assets and how, in doing so, they serve as essential community anchors and institutions.
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Scarecrow Press
Pages: 252Size: 6 x 9
978-0-8108-9181-4 • Paperback • May 2013 • $61.00 • (£42.95)
978-0-8108-9182-1 • eBook • May 2013 • $59.99 • (£39.95)
Julie Biando Edwards is the Ethnic Studies Librarian and Multicultural Coordinator at the Mansfield Library at The University of Montana in Missoula. Melissa S. Robinson is the Teen Librarian at the Peabody Institute Library in Peabody, MA. Kelley Rae Unger is the Adult Services Librarian at the Peabody Institute Library in Peabody, MA.
Foreword by Kathleen de la Peña McCook
Part 1
Chapter 1 - Community-Centered Library Services: Their Importance and Relevance
Chapter 2 - Community-Centered Libraries: The Hearts of Revitalized Communities
Chapter 3 - The Future of Libraries, Now
Part 2
Chapter 4 - Allocate the Resources
Chapter 5 - Think Like a Programmer
Chapter 6 - Networking
Chapter 7 - Collaborations
Chapter 8 - Get Grants
Part 3
Chapter 9 - Libraries as Centers of Civic Action
Chapter 10 - Libraries as Centers for Sustainability
Chapter 11 - Libraries as Cultural Reflections of the Community
Chapter 12 - Libraries as Community Centers for Diverse Populations
Chapter 13 - Libraries as Centers for the Arts
Chapter 14 - Libraries as Universities
Chapter 15 - Libraries as Champions of Youth
Authored by the ethnic studies librarian and multicultural coordinator at the Mansfield Library at the University of Montana in Missoula, the teen librarian at the Peabody Institute Library in Peabody, Massachusetts, and the adult services librarian at the Peabody Institute Library, this work offers 15 chapters organized into 3 parts: the what and why of community-centered libraries, how to create community-centered libraries, and inspiration for community-centered libraries. Intended for the public librarian, 'this work demonstrates how public libraries can position themselves as active and vibrant centers of community life in the twenty-first century' (p. vii). Drawing on real-life examples, the co-authors demonstrate through case studies how libraries of all sizes, demographics, and budgets in the United States can and do work to become community-centered. Drawing on what has already been done, sharing tips, tricks, inspiration, what to do, and what not to do, this book will encourage and enable any public library to become more community-centered. Librarians in other types of libraries can also benefit from selected chapters, based on the community needs, whether looking to find the importance and relevance of being community-centered; how to allocate the resources, collaborate, and obtain grants; or determining how to focus on civic action, sustainability, the arts, or other purposes. Down-to-earth and practical, yet packed with ideas and inspiration, this work is beneficial to any public library’s professional collection.
American Reference Books Annual