A couple of new books have come out this summer that bolster the idea that libraries have a very strong role to play in the communities of tomorrow, and that role is not all about books, at all.
The first book was reviewed two weeks ago in The New York Times Book Review, and the second one came out yesterday in the same book section.
The newer one seems to state the case for libraries most clearly. The title is “How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization and the Decline of Civic Life.” It is by Eric Klinenberg.
The review by Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., says that Klinenberg has managed to state very strongly the case for cities and counties and states adding “social” infrastructure even if they never get around to “physical” infrastructure, which is much talked-about and never funded.
His prime example is the public library, which is already in existence in so many places and does not to be invented or made from whole cloth. To quote Buttigieg:
“Klinenberg finds in libraries ‘the textbook example of social infrastructure in action,” a shared space where everyone from schoolchildren doing homework to the video-gaming elderly can get to know one another better…”
In other words, we at the library help people connect in social ways. And we will be doing far more of that in the future, because that is clearly THE future for libraries. Socially-minded design matters. It helps build bridges.
Can anyone deny that Wimberley needs some bridge-building?