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LIS 950: Libraries and community

The purpose of this seminar is to explore an important topic in library and information studies in depth — in all its intertwined historical, cultural, philosophical, and political aspects — through a graduate reading/discussion seminar. The topic varies each time the course is taught; this time around, we will focus on "libraries and community"

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Is a "seamless web of community information" the future of the library?

This has been a reoccurring theme in a number of our readings this semester:

A current trend in public library rhetoric, and in practice in certain libraries, is to leverage resources and capabilities and strengthen community usefulness and status by entering into partnership with local community organizations and institutions to serve a variety of community needs, most notably through electronic information systems. This approach, as we have noted, also reflects the growth of communitarian thinking and of the new community networks and informs the attitudes of foundations and groups interested in public libraries, as is documented in several reports. The Benton Foundation’s Buildings, Books, and Bytes: Libraries and Communities in the Digital Age concludes that public libraries, to remain viable, should be involved in creating " new life forms" in which they " team up with other public service information providers to form community education and information networks open and available to all" in a " seamless web of community information."

This idea of the seamless web of community information is not that far-fetched. If the argument for sustaining libraries as a viable part of the community is tied directly to community partnerships . . . then I believe that libraries are well positioned to sustain and perpetuate this idea of seamless community.

Check out Madison's Public Library’s community section:

http://www.madisonpubliclibrary.org/community/index.html

What entities are better situated to provide the community information integration as the above quote suggests? What makes a library community web site important . . . maybe even essential to the community?

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