The reference librarian should be at the very center of community life.

Explain please.

I’ll explain.

It all begins with a directory of locally available services and activities offered by nonprofit organizations.

The directory is really about relationships.

Funny graphic, but why bother doing this? A directory listing does not sound very exciting, no offence.

None taken.

It’s like the Knight in Bergman’s movie – The Seventh Seal – public libraries are in a chess game with death. Figuratively speaking of course.

Of course. But still, a directory?

The directory is “just” a lead-in. You see, it’s not just libraries that are in trouble, communities, as you may have heard, are too. Or will be in the not too distant future.

You’re talking about climate change, right?

Not just (To name a few).
A Library Community Network is killing two birds with one stone.

That’s just one bird, but I get the point or points: You’re helping libraries become more relevant, and increasing community access to local resources in times of need. Great, but communication networks already do the work of your directory.

Not quite.

Notice the difference between the two photos? One is called connecting to resources, the other is called connecting as a resource. Can you guess which is which?

Nice idea, but a directory is not Facebook, and that first picture is a bit manipulative, don’t you think? Technology isn’t always cold and isolating you know.

Well it is and it isn’t.
Granted the first picture – computers in an empty room – was taken in a library near closing time: technology is a tool, human interaction is not a tool; one goal of technology should be to connect people – agreed?

That’s the reference librarian’s job.


The reference librarian now should have a new purpose: to make locally available resources more visible, and to develop relationships between the nonprofit organizations, the library, and the community.

The local public library should offer a reference service that connects all available resources to the community – not just the brochures, computers, multi-media, and our old friends the books.

Read the full story here (website).

Or shorter pdf version here.

Not just for librarians: for all community development folks.