Earlier this year, Diederick Slijkerman and Ton van Vlimmeren released “Living Libraries – The house of the community around the world”, a book exploring the multifaceted nature of public libraries. We know that the pandemic has challenged libraries to adapt and rethink their services when their buildings had to shut and this book helps dive into the different ways in which libraries serve their communities. One of the key arguments of the book is that libraries are, at their core, an informal public gathering place also known as a “third place”. These are important in all communities as they promote social equality, offer opportunities for development and engagement of people of all ages, social classes and ethnicities.
The research, carried out earlier on within the Biblio project, often indicated that public libraries were tasked with educational objectives, however, this is not the only impact they have within their community. As we see in Diederick Slijkerman and Ton van Vlimmeren’s book, community libraries in Nepal act as first responders during natural disasters, as it was the case in 2015. One of our project partners, the Global Libraries Bulgaria Foundation sees libraries as the perfect spaces and actors to explore environmental issues and the educational integration of children from minority groups. As library services face a myriad of challenges in their communities, their position at the heart of the community allows them to work with library users and non-users to develop programmes that respond to these challenges.
As our research and this book have shown, libraries have a variety of purposes and serve their communities in different ways and respond to challenges unique to their community. Through the Biblio project, we aim to support librarians and individuals interested in librarianship to have the skills – digital and transversal alike – needed to tackle the new challenges our society faces.
Stay tuned for more information on the VET curriculum and when it goes live by following the Digital Biblio Twitter and Facebook. The book discussed is available on the Utrecht Public Library page in PDF and EPUB format.