Libraries provide educational programming, a welcoming space, and access to computers and internet connection. This last point has become increasingly important during the pandemic, especially for libraries serving rural areas. In order to safely continue serving their communities, they have faced both the obstacles of switching to virtual programming and ensuring people can access it, on what is often a tiny budget.
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libraries transforming communities focus on small and rural libraries
It’s easy to imagine a successful program as a packed Zoom call or large outdoor gathering — but major change doesn’t necessarily require major turnout.
Through ALA's Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Focus on Small and Rural Libraries initiative, libraries engage their small communities in discussion around issues that matter. Here are the stories of two libraries whose programs started small.
The Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries initiative supports small and rural libraries to engage their communities in discussion around issues that matter. However, the most important topics to talk about are often the most controversial. Here are two stories of how librarians prepared for difficult conversations.
Igiugig Village ("iggy-AH-gig") has a population of 70. Located in southwestern Alaska on the south bank of the mouth of the Kvichak River and Lake Iliamna, its population consists primarily of Yup’ik Alaska Natives. As a tiny and remote community of people who live close to the land, villagers rely on salmon as the main food source and have a passion for sustainability and clean energy.
Keene is a working-class community located in New Hampshire, one of the most racially homogenous states in the country. Living as a person of color in a predominately white community can be an isolating experience, but race is an important conversation topic no matter where one lives. Librarian Gail Zachariah of Keene Public Library created conversation programs with the goal of helping Keene residents learn from and understand one another.
“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done at my library.” This is how Julie Perrin, director of the Jaffrey Public Library in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, describes a virtual conversation she recently hosted on gender identity. The topic itself wasn’t scary; Perrin was worried about her community’s reaction.