The article by True Activist highlights how libraries can move beyond their collections and take on an active role in community building. John Hailer, a previous Executive Vice President at Natixis, argues that today’s libraries are not just buildings where books are stored but spaces used to engage the community in a collective pursuit of knowledge. Libraries are accessible to all members of the community regardless of age or background and they foster democratic values by welcoming everyone.
John Hailer insists that by using resources from its collection combined with partnerships with other local organizations, libraries offer unique opportunities for reflecting on one’s own identity as well as exploring new communities without the pressure to perform or succeed. Libraries also help build and encourage free thinking, self-confidence, and critical thinking.
John Hailer of Natixis continues by saying libraries are welcoming to everyone, including immigrants and refugees. They have often been the venue for the first social experiences of children and the place where they learn valuable information about their community’s history. With public libraries, we can feel more at home when we are not at our own home.
Libraries also have a great potential to become healing spaces in communities where violence is present. By having their doors open every day of the week, libraries can also be considered safe space for children who do not have a consistent or stable home environment or who live in an area with high crime rates.
Libraries are a great place to receive free high-quality training. By offering language classes, life skills trainings, and other cultural and educational classes, libraries can play an important role in helping immigrants and refugees integrate into the community. They can also offer a safe space for sensitive conversations such as sexual education or depression awareness.
Finally, libraries can play an important role in supporting civic engagement by providing the necessary resources for citizens to become active voters. Libraries can also engage with local authorities by presenting citizens’ feedback and suggestions on how to improve the local community. By providing this feedback to local representatives and leaders, libraries can help strengthen their relationship with the people they represent.