This is Libraries Week in the UK, so everyday I am writing an article to celebrate how libraries connect communities.

I implemented a collaborative project at a public library with a museum, a college and an historical society. Subsequently, I conducted research for my senior thesis, looking at adult education programs in public libraries. The aim of my research was to try to find out how public libraries could increase participation in such programs.

Don’t worry, I am not about to copy and paste my entire 58 page thesis into the post; yes, that would be easy, but it would also be very cruel! Instead, here is a brief summary of my findings.

  • The relationship between libraries and their communities is symbiotic. Libraries need to get to know and understand their communities if they are to better cater to their needs and interests; there needs to be more two-way communication between libraries and their communities.
  • Marketing has a huge effect on the success rate of library programs; if members of the community don’t know about library programs then they won’t participate in them. Libraries should use a variety of marketing tools rather than relying on just one or two of the more traditional methods. Posters, leaflets and Facebook are not enough.
  • Public libraries are viewed by many people as being at the heart of the community. By embracing their role as a kind of community centre, libraries can become essential providers of a wide range of services and programs that could increase community participation and library usage.
  • Through forging greater collaborative relationships with external agencies in communities, libraries could offer a wider variety of programs. Forming collaborations and connections with other institutions, for example, provides many possibilities for expanding a library’s role within the community, making it truly dynamic and indispensable.

If you would like to read my thesis to find out how I reached these conclusions, please click here.