Libraries are not the kinds of institutions that most social scientists, policymakers, and community leaders usually bring up when they discuss social capital and how to build it.
The extra services and programming they provide for older people are particularly important. As of , more than 12 million Americans aged 65 and above live by themselves, and the ranks of those who are aging alone is growing steadily in much of the world. Although most people in this situation are socially active, the risk of isolation is formidable.
In neighborhoods where crime is high or the social infrastructure is depleted, old people are more likely to stay home, alone, simply because they lack compelling places to go. There are more people living alone than at any point in history.
But this place has become very dear to me. So many good things have happened because we come here. I felt like I was in the trenches, you know?
You can go crazy like that. I had to get out, but it was hard. When the baby starts crying everyone turns around and stares at you. On one especially stressful day, though, she put her daughter in the stroller and brought her into the Seward Park library, just to see what was there. Feeling liberated, responsible, intelligent. Forging a new relationship, deepening an old one.
Sensing, in some cases for the first time, that they belong. Sharon Marcus grew up in a working-class family in Queens where money was tight and everyone was busy.
There was never really any spot that you could just sit and be by yourself. I wanted to read for as long as I wanted, to be completely in charge of my time, my energy, how I was using my attention, where I was directing it, for how long. Marcus has vivid memories of the books she read in her branch library. It started with stories about ordinary kids in New York City living lives very different from hers, and in time she grew interested in books about female actors and film stars. Even now, I can physically see where this section was in the building.
They were like men who had done something.
I devoured it. The library became even more important to Marcus when she entered adolescence. Nobody treated me like I was special or super-smart, either. They were just neutral.
And that, I think, was a real gift. It made the library a space of permission, not encouragement that pushed you in a certain direction, where you feel like people are watching you and like giving their approval, but just freedom to pursue what you want. The library, she learned, could accommodate nearly all of her interests, especially if she left her neighborhood and visited the main Queens library or the stunning central library on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
I realized that there were all these things I wanted to understand about how the world worked, and that here I could find the answers through books and reading. Jelani Cobb, who grew up in Hollis, Queens, during the s, also believes that the most important part of his education happened in his neighborhood library. His father, who migrated from southern Georgia, was an electrician who started working at age nine and had only a third-grade education; his mother, from Alabama, had a high school degree. Cobb remembers getting his first library card at about nine years old at the public library on th Street and Hollis Avenue.
I think if you were old enough to sign your name you could get a card.
And she gave me the thing! I signed my name and the card was mine! A reason public libraries are seen as such important third-place institutions is that they and their librarians have gradually taken on other functions well beyond lending out books. In many communities, librarians are also ad hoc social workers and navigators. They help local people figure out the complexities of life, from navigating the health system to helping those with housing needs.
www.cantinesanpancrazio.it/components/kikonum/68-spia-telefonino.php Other sectors, such as health care, increasingly see public libraries as a critical link to a community. For instance, the National Library of Medicine is helping local librarians to be more effective local navigators by regularly hosting webinars and training sessions for local librarians on how to navigate social services, aging, mental health, welfare and public assistance, housing resources, health care, and education and employment resources. Of course, most librarians were not trained to handle many of the issues and requests they now encounter, such as providing guidance on resources for substance abuse and mental health issues.
In response, some libraries have hired in-house social workers to help address the needs of visitors. A case worker is able to do a full assessment, and help arrange case management and housing assistance, in a respectful and neutral safe space. Other cities have followed suit. Many libraries have become front-line institutions in addressing the needs of the homeless. The emphasis is on making all library visitors feel welcome. The library runs a Homeless Engagement and Leadership Program HELP Desk where customers can obtain one-on-one assistance with job applications and resumes, food and housing referrals, legal aid, and library music and arts programs.
Libraries focus on a wide range of populations with particular needs, including seniors, veterans, and immigrants. TAP partners with community leaders and organizations to provide employment services, English as a new language classes, legal orientation programs, Know-Your-Rights forums, and referrals to other services, in five different languages. Meanwhile the Queens Borough Public Library in New York, has partnered with the Queens Health Network, the largest healthcare provider in the area, to design health-related and community-centered programming targeting the needs of its immigrant populations.
In health care and other areas, libraries are combining the access and trust characteristics of a third place with a hub role in the community — using partnerships with other institutions to connect people with services and help. There are plenty of challenges with this role.
Feeling liberated, responsible, intelligent. There's been no shortage of protests, marches, and strikes, but aside from the traditional demonstrations of civil disobedience, people across the country have come up with new and surprising ways to speak out against the dangerous political agenda of the current administration and stand up for their rights and the rights of others. While they might have a robust fiction section, libraries are still some of the greatest champions of truth. According to the ALA, librarians in public and academic libraries across the country answer nearly 6. But libraries, as we know, do not exist for free. Reuse this content.