REAL PUBLIC LIBRARIAN

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The importance of belonging

I have been reading a book,"Well and good: how we feel and why it matters" byAustralian health researcher Richard Eckersley, and his discussion of the correlation between positive feelings of "belonging" and happiness/wellbeing. This started the chain of thought about how "connected" I felt when I attended our local arts festival this weekend, as a volunteer and as a participant. Here we were, this little community of a couple of thousand people who had decided to join together in this artificial "village" for three days in an atmosphere of mutual fun but also of respect and goodwill - when I was on the gate on the Saturday night nearly everyone was leaving with a smile and a word of how great the day had been/how great they felt. Then I got to thinking about how you could replicate that feeling of belonging in the "library" community. And I got to realizing that we have a natural head start - by definition library members "belong" to the library - so it's about investing that word with more - how could I phrase this without sounding like a hippy (I did eat a lot of Hare Krishna food and listen to a lot of Indian spiritual music over the weekend so the effects may still be lingering) - "spirit"? "being there"? "authenticity"?. And then I was reminded of something I think I read on one of the blogs (buggered if I can remember where I heard it actually) that more or less said that the local library has nothing to fear from Google because of just that - the local library is local in a way that Google can never be. Which is why I and the staff get such a kick out of helping a library member find/discover/locate/ that special personalized book/novel/website/bit of information that can never be replicated by a machine (well not in my lifetime anyway). There must be such huge potential to build on our community's need for belonging...

And BTW, I felt moved to thank the Hare Krishna guys for nourishing me all weekend (their food is so good I couldn't be tempted away by any other food stalls), and they thanked me (I felt sincerely) for my presence. Not that I'm at all religious, and not even a vegetarian, but that is a group of people who really understand the meaning of being authentic as per the "Fish" principle I posted about from the Conference - "Have fun, Make their day, Be there, Choose your attitude".

6 Comments:

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    By Anonymous australia monster career job search, at 8:25 AM  

  • Could it be Walt Crawford's piece you're thinking of? http://www.google.com/librariancenter/articles/0606_03.html

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:47 AM  

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    By Anonymous automotive engineering, at 1:46 PM  

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    By Anonymous Guitar Master, at 6:01 AM  

  • Google will never replace the local library and what it can offer in our life time.

    The important thing is that people know what we offer and it is more than just information.

    You can always run something like an "Adopt a neighbour" campaign.

    I would like to see google compete with a "Library bus". Redcliffe had ( and may still have) a service that picked you up from you front gate. Assisted you on to the bus. Took you to the library for tea and biscuits and some time to choose your book and just mingle. Then it droped you back at your front gate.

    For some this was their ONLY social outing. Lets see Google beat THAT!.

    By Blogger Andrew, at 8:34 AM  

  • I'm with Andrew. But then, I've never believed that "information" was a particularly good place to hang public library significance. Locality, stories, place, community, stories, service, stories, locality, presence...did I mention stories and locality?

    Fortunately, Google doesn't appear to have any intention of replacing libraries. (I sure wouldn't have written that no-fee piece if I had any serious doubts on that issue.)

    By Anonymous walt crawford, at 1:25 AM  

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