Building relationships and community…half-formed thoughts

Recently, I’ve been hearing about the importance of community everywhere. In the literature I’m reading, on NPR (which story, I have sadly forgotten), and it keeps coming up in my consultations with students. Some interesting readings on building relationships, joining communities instead of networking, and social capital in libraries. I would love to see research on social capital in academic libraries, but I haven’t found it yet.

  • Johnson, 2012, How do public libraries create social capital? An analysis of interactions between library staff and patrons. doi: 10.1016/j.lisr.2011.07.009
  • Andreas Varheim et al, 2008, Do libraries matter? Public libraries and the creation of social capital. doi: 10.1108/00220410810912433


Engaging as an introvert

As someone who tends towards introversion more often than not, outreach and “networking” at conferences can be exhausting experiences. A struggle that’s relevant to my daily work, is the difficulty reaching out again and again to people who are not responsive. One of my colleagues excels at this and he is also an introvert; his success at this gives me hope. I’ve found some interesting posts about this. This isn’t rocket science, but it was helpful to see some of the same advice across a variety of sources. I see the power of peer-to-peer word of mouth, so I am resigning myself to the risk of irritating people in pursuit of developing more substantive relationships across campus.


Research support – networks & hierarchies

Many researchers feel burdened by administrative requirements (2012 Faculty Workload Survey). They do not always recognize strategies, tools, and services that could improve their research practices. This is an opportunity for librarians to identify unmet needs to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of academic research. Thinking about the library as a platform and community for research, rather than as just a building, a website, or people (Mathews, 2012), changes the mission and process for developing data services and focuses on the needs of researchers. The library is just one of many research support services. The combined expertise of library professionals and our position within the institution enable us to make a unique contribution. Beyond applying our expertise in managing, preserving, and disseminating information to the specific challenges of data, we can serve as a hub of a distributed network, similar to the way in which Clinical and Translational Science Centers function. Like CTS Centers, libraries are partners with researchers, research support staff, and students in shaping the future of academic research to make it more sustainable, transparent, and accessible. This idea of the library as facilitator or place for connecting and developing community is relevant and important to research. I’m not exactly sure how to get there, but I feel like this is where academic libraries need to go.


By Heather L. Coates

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