Community, and LCN

Isn’t that what it’s all about? Relationships, quality of life, sustainable lifestyles and cultural environment – in a word, community – that which has a many faceted impact on personal lives.

As to community resources, most of us are familiar with several types: businesses, tax paid ones like police and fire departments, schools, the post office, and perhaps also a few nonprofits.

Business, tax paid, and some nonprofits, are usually easy to identify, but many nonprofits are not so easy to see. They’re here, supplying everything from social activities, to basic necessary services. It’s these local noncommercial resources that are often underrepresented.

Available information regarding local nonprofit organizations is often  not comprehensive, not organized, and not effectively presented.

Some future-looking global scenarios suggest that large-scale environmental changes may occur as a result of things like global warming, pandemic disease, resource depletion, and other circumstances. If some of these projections come true, local resource management systems could be in for some challenges.

The idea for Library Community Network (LCN) was born in 2010 while thinking about sustainability and the Transition Network which was (and is) active in several countries, the US included. See transitionnetwork.org and transitionus.org. Beginning in England, the “Transition Towns” movement offers a set of activities or initiatives that can help communities prepare for social, environmental, and economic change.

To prepare for any kind of change, communities will need an evolving information resource and an engaged population. Preparing communities for an unknown future of environmental change, advancing at an unknown rate puts communities in a precarious position. How to motivate and keep a community engaged to meet these as yet unrealized events is a challenge: begin too late, and miss the boat, begin too early and risk participant burn-out. That’s where local nonprofit organizations and the Library Community Network come in.

I wrote an article,  “Public Libraries: How To Save Them” published by the American Library Association’s, Public Library magazine, July/August issue, 2014, and began thinking about how to address issues of public library relevance and environmental instability, and how to do it in a way that is practical, useful.

As it turns out, an important piece of this process is already in place, bricks, mortar, and all – the public library, the information resource center of a community. And community resources were in place as well – nonprofit organizations. Connecting the two together –  resource providers with resource managers – was the challenge. .

The central theme behind LCN is to expand the reference functions of the public library to include representing all of the nonprofits that provide services and activities to the local community; a network.

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Below is an early graphic representation of how public libraries can relate to social, economic, and environmental change.