Many library advocates argue that libraries do community-building work, that is, they help build capacity, develop social capital, and work in other ways to strengthen their communities. There is, however, little recognition of this role in the community-building literature or by those directly engaged in community improvement work. This is especially true for libraries in small, rural communities that, until relatively recently, have received little attention even from the field of library and information science. The purpose of this research was to identify qualities that influence the success of vibrant, small rural libraries that engage in community-building work. In-depth case studies of three libraries (in MS, NM, and OR serving roughly 8,000, 5,000, and 2,500 people) and their communities were conducted. State librarians recommended these libraries as typical, successful libraries that show long-term efforts and/or creative or innovative approaches to community building. The study shows in detail the ways in which these libraries play significant community-strengthening roles, although they do so to different degrees. The study further shows that information and communication technology services help them expand their community-building work including reducing the rural digital divide. The investigation also reveals the challenges and benefits to small rural libraries of doing community building, and the extent to which such libraries can become major players in their communities. In identifying the qualities of these successful community-building libraries, the study uncovers attributes that might enable other libraries to improve their community-building efforts. The research strongly suggests that those who have studied community building or are engaged in community change work have and are overlooking an important local resource—the public library.
|Advisor:||Kielbowicz, Richard B.|
|School:||University of Washington|
|School Location:||United States -- Washington|
|Source:||DAI-A 71/02, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Library science, Communication|
|Keywords:||Community-building, Information and communication technology, Public libraries, Rural libraries|
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