“The Role of Public Libraries in Engaging Citizens in Smart, Inclusive and Connected Communities – a Current Practices Report” (40 pages; PDF) was recently published by CTG UAlbany (a research institute at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany).
About the Report from SUNY Albany:
According to the CTG UAlbany report, The Role of Public Libraries in Engaging Citizens in Smart, Inclusive and Connected Communities, libraries around the nation are supporting their citizens in innovative ways. Through workshops about robots and 3D printers, social media, open buildings, and new collections of plant and flower seeds, power tools, board games, American Girl Dolls, thermal cameras, LED Bulbs, and gardening equipment to the public, libraries are a space for the community to come together to learn, communicate, and be engaged participants in their own communities.
“As a very important element of the digital, knowledge and creative infrastructures of smart communities, public libraries may further play a critical role in involving the community and in addressing its needs, issues and interests,” researchers said in the report.
“They could offer a new generation of library services that could be integrated with the city infrastructure and that could further extend public libraries’ roles as community anchors and as information literacy hubs in smart communities,” researchers said.
University at Albany Information Science Ph.D. student and former CTG UAlbany Graduate Assistant Shannon Mersand is the lead author of the report. Co-authors include: CTG UAlbany Associate Research Director Mila Gascó Hernández, Information Science Ph.D. student Xiaoyi Zhao, CTG UAlbany Research Director J. Ramon Gil-Garcia, Managing Director G. Brian Burke, and Program Associate Megan Sutherland.
Miguel Figueroa – Director of the Center for the Future of Libraries at the American Library Association – is also a co-author.
Researchers studied 32 different libraries across the United States, from the New York Public Library in Midtown Manhattan to Ignacio Community Library in the southwest corner of Colorado (population just under 5,800).
The researchers focused on identifying best practices at each library through the lenses of: infrastructure, technology, programs and services, citizen engagement, communications, and partnerships. The team then also identified “Integrative Best Practices,” that touch many or all of those areas.
The report is part of a multi-year, multi-phase project supported by a grant awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (No. LG-96-17-0144-17).
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