Libraries Build Communities

Occupy Wall Street Library

The month of November is almost half over, if you can believe it. Which also marks the halfway point of NaBloPoMo.

It also means that the Occupy Wall Street movement is almost 2 months old. I’m sure most of you have heard that the New York occupation was evicted from sleeping in the park. Everything went. Tents, sleeping bags, personal items, the library.

Amazingly, the media has been covering the loss of the library’s 5,000+ books with great interest. What I didn’t know before today was that it was organized and cared for by a volunteer staff of around 15 people, and one of the first community-like features to evolve in OccupyCity. Which is quite a feat outdoors. Kinda cool when you think about it.

Having just opened a membership-driven community tech library, I love to see how it pulls everyone together and centers the community. Not only is a library a place to read and gain information, it’s a place to gather and share information. It’s an inexpensive meeting place for the entrepreneurs. It’s a place for established businesses to share information or meet potential employees or clients. It’s a place that encourages the melding between programmers and hackers (think the people who dismantled their radios by the time they were 10 years old and made something else from the parts just because they were curious).

A library levels the metaphorical playing field. People use libraries to find information that they seek. Everyone is there for that reason. It’s a keystone to understanding your community and engaging the local community. The curious high school student may attend a talk or class by a top business leader and ask a question that’s the catalyst for the student’s life work. The business leader may encounter another person who helps her have another perspective on a problem he’s been pondering. The library is the core of a honeycomb that holds these chance encounters and serendipitous relationships in place.

Photo: Occupy Wall Street Library by Spaztacular (Flickr user name) and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

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Sara Written by:

I'm an Information Architect and Taxonomist in the greater Philadelphia, PA area. Mad about metadata. Incessant organizer. Knowledge monger. Information seeker. Wisdom chaser. Curiosity has yet to kill this cat!