Posts in topic: community

Public libraries generate social capital that can save lives

Chris Cyr, Ph.D.

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When disaster strikes, libraries are there to help. In California, where many have been forced from their homes due to forest fires and power outages, libraries like Folsom Public Library have become a refuge for people who need to charge devices, use WiFi, or just have a place to go. In March of 2011, a powerful earthquake triggered enormous tsunami waves in the Tōhoku region of Japan, killing thousands of people, driving hundreds of thousands from their homes, and leaving millions without electricity and water service. In the months after this horrific disaster, as hundreds of government services, NGOs, and private and international relief agencies struggled to help communities recovery, residents also looked to public libraries for help.

Why is that? Libraries don’t provide food, water, electricity, or medical services. In many cases, libraries had suffered the same catastrophic losses as their neighbors; staff had perished or been injured, buildings completely destroyed or unusable, resources gutted. Why, then, did people so quickly turn to libraries after a disaster? Because of social capital.

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Finding community and more in Phoenix

Kelly Wolfe

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In early October, leaders and staff from OCLC member libraries of all types across the Americas will meet in the Phoenix, Arizona, area for two days of learning, connection, and collaboration at the OCLC Library Futures Conference. Six keynote speakers from inside and outside of the library community will provide inspiration to get participants thinking creatively about how our libraries can be catalysts for change in our communities. The programming—planned by a team of leaders from OCLC member libraries—focuses on providing the leadership needed to guide these exciting changes.

This annual conference will be held in a unique Scottsdale hotel, The Scott, a venue that will enhance opportunities for networking breaks, collaboration, and fun. The agenda includes a dinner event at the Heard Museum, known internationally for its collections and advancement of American Indian art.

But if you’re traveling all the way to sunny Phoenix, you may want to extend your trip a bit to take in some of the many experiences and sights in the area.

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Four surprising findings from community-centric space transformations

Betha Gutsche

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There is always something creative and educational waiting for us at the library.

That’s what one library user and parent said about the Ronan District Library in Ronan, Montana, after the library participated in the Small Libraries Create Smart Spaces project, led by OCLC’s WebJunction program with funding from an IMLS National Leadership Grant. The Ronan library, along with 14 other small and rural libraries in the US, transformed library spaces into places for social, active learning.

Thanks to the original program’s success and supplemental funding from IMLS, the WebJunction team is bringing this opportunity to 15 more public libraries in 2019. We often say libraries are the heart of a community, but one key to successful transformations involves placing communities at the heart of the library. The libraries each led a community discovery process, which helps them see their library through the eyes of community members. This opened a path to rediscovering the unique personality of the library and the ways people interact with it.

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Why the future of your library depends on others’ knowledge

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Like most libraries, my library in Madrid is facing new and challenging resource constraints, user requirements, and technology demands. Some areas are called on to do more work with fewer staff and lower funding. And all are dealing with user expectations based on global commercial powerhouse brands like Google, Apple, and Amazon.

What we have found at Complutense University is that the key to meeting major local challenges is to recast them as shared global opportunities.

Who do we share them with? All other libraries, worldwide.

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Discover Seattle during your ALA Midwinter visit

Jennifer Peterson

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In just a couple weeks, thousands of librarians from across the US, Canada, and other locations will descend on Seattle for ALA Midwinter. It’s great to have a chance to meet with OCLC members and hear about what they’re doing within their communities. And doing so on WebJunction’s home turf is particularly exciting.

My colleagues and I want to help make sure that you enjoy your visit to our part of the Pacific Northwest, so we’d like to offer some recommendations for your upcoming visit.

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Supercharge your storytimes to make a real impact on early childhood literacy

Saroj Ghoting

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To an outsider, a library storytime can seem deceptively simple—grab a favorite book and ham it up. Use a puppet, silly voices, and everyone will have fun.

Storytimes are entertaining! But libraries are in a unique position to connect with families and their children from birth. Skillful, thoughtful storytime practitioners are key to the role libraries can play as anchor institutions within a broader community learning infrastructure.

When storytime providers are intentional in supporting early literacy, interact with participants, and take time to assess their programs, then early literacy behaviors increase.

It’s what we call supercharging your storytimes.

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Top posts for 2018: Wikipedia, Linked Data, Container Collapse, and … the Blues?

OCLC

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The Blues? Yes, the Blues. Along with the library/Wikipedia connection, the promise of linked data, and the collapse of information containers, our “Three Cures for the Humdrum ILL Blues” post was one of the topics that got the most traffic in 2018.

Overall, the OCLC Next blog continued to grow in 2018. About 55,000 readers stopped by nearly 70,000 times this year to check out our posts. From those, we’ve chosen five of the most popular to share with you again.

From all of our authors and editors, thank you for reading and sharing our work and making the blog successful! We hope you’ll continue reading. Have a happy holiday season and joyful new year!

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Think like a “game changer”

Hubert Krekels

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I often remember Skip Prichard quoting Jack Welch at our Edinburgh, Scotland, EMEA Regional Council meeting: “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” As a true librarian and forward thinker, I fully recognize we are in the middle of this, but I prefer to complete the quote this way: “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change in your library … change the game!”

In the late 1940s, The Lego Group began producing the building bricks, which we all know so well. For decades, they made popular kits that were described by many, all around the world, as one of the best toys in history. However, as children’s play preferences changed, Lego’s economic fortunes declined.

How do you improve a product that has been a global icon for generations? Many small, incremental improvements may help. But at some point, you may need to make a major adjustment and start thinking like a game changer.

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Invite your community to shape smart spaces

Betha Gutsche

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When 15 small and rural libraries joined the Small Libraries Create Smart Spaces project, they signed on for a journey toward transforming their physical spaces and library services. Their exploration was guided by principles of placemaking, design thinking, and active learning. Along the way, they connected with their communities in refreshing new ways that catalyzed relationships and opened up possibilities.

Transformation is a big, ambitious word, charged with expectation of profound change. It might seem like an oversized challenge for libraries that are defined by small: small town, small building, small budget. But these 15 intrepid libraries, serving populations of 560 to 16,000 people, discovered the key to unlocking true transformation: meaningful connection with the community.

Rather than a more familiar positioning of “the library as the heart of the community,” each sought to put their community at the heart of the library.

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Four tips for building a successful digital time capsule

Curt Witcher

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You’ve probably heard of time capsules, those collections of memorabilia—letters, photos, coins, newspapers, etc.—that document a place, an organization, an event, or a family. These everyday artifacts are sealed off, buried, and set aside for later generations to open. According to history.com, tens of thousands of these are scattered around the world since the practice first caught on in the 19th and 20th centuries. The objective of time capsules is to help future archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians discover a little bit about the people of the time.

Well, time capsules have moved into the digital age. And many libraries are taking the lead in bringing their communities together to build digital community albums and time capsules with audio, video, and image files. One of those libraries is my library, the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA.

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