Build Community

Libraries Now: A Day in the Life

A documentary about the role of New York branch libraries play in the lives of community members, as well as the struggle for the future of New York's branch libraries, by Julie Dressner and Jesse Hicks.

Libraries are community hubs. In addition to connecting people to information, libraries connect people to people. They are safe havens for kids when school is not in session, offering after school homework help, games and book clubs. Libraries offer computer classes, enabling older adults stay engaged in a digital world. Bookmobiles and community outreach programs keep those living in remote areas or those who are homebound connected to the larger community. 

Public libraries also help communities cope with the unexpected. The rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has many public libraries struggling to keep up with the demand for public computer terminals and with requests for help in using the act’s website. Libraries also play a key role in the wake of natural disasters; after Hurricane Sandy, for example, people left homeless by the storm were filling libraries in New York and New Jersey, using library computers to complete federal forms and communicating with loved ones using the library’s internet connections.

 

The Red Hook (N.Y) Public Library proved it’s more than just a book-lender when it listened to residents’ frustrations and rallied the small town to protest a faulty traffic light, inspiring community members to address other problems together.  READ MORE
The Hartford (Conn.) Public Library has a long history with community engagement; it regularly sponsors community dialogues and youth forums. So after learning residents from a disadvantaged neighborhood felt underserved and misrepresented, the library jumped at the chance to strengthen the neighborhood’s bond to the rest of the city. Hartford’s North End consists of a group of neighborhoods with some of the lowest income levels in the United States. To learn more about the community, the library hosted a series of small “kitchen table-style” conversations in the area. Instead of starting the conversations with a list of problems, staff members asked North End residents how they envision their ideal community. READ MORE
 
Because transformation is essential to the communities we serve, Libraries Transform, Librariestransform.org
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