Serendipity and Community

Don’t you love how one thing leads to another?  Someone sends you a blog article or tells you a story or there’s a post on Facebook that you click on and before you know it: connection to connection to connection and you find yourself creating a link between two ideas or people or parts of your life that you wouldn’t have ordinarily connected.

Here’s the little journey I recently went on.  I’m a member of Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project.  She had a blog post about doing an interview on Good Life Project, which I had never heard of before.  I went to the website and the interview at the top was with Brene Brown who is a researcher that has garnered popular interest with her TED Talks and her books on shame and vulnerability.  If you read my blog, you know that I love her.  Listen to her TED Talks (there are 2 of them).  I seriously heard doors swing open when she talked about vulnerability as a courageous act.  I listened to the Brene Brown interview and she mentioned a Thich Nhat Hahn quote that she had recently heard.  “We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”  This quote was rattling around my head along with a part of the interview where they discussed finding a community and figuring out how to serve them instead of developing a product and figuring out how to sell it.  So, here are these two different ways of talking about connectedness and community when I came across this post about shareable spaces in libraries.

Whew.  Are you still with me?  That whole process happened in a few minutes.  I went from checking in on a community blog that is about meditation and wound my way to a blog about building shareable communities that had a library related post.

A few days ago, I read another one of those “demise of libraries” articles and was dumbfounded.  When was the last time the writer had actually been in a public library?  His major thesis was that libraries’ main schtick was to loan books and that would eventually disappear.  Uhm.  No.  Libraries main schtick is serving the community in the way the community needs.  They need books?  We try to provide books.  They need jobs?  We try to provide the computer access and training and bring in speakers and resume writers and business advisers to help.  It goes on and on.  The crazy, beautiful thing about the the article referenced above about libraries as laboratories is that is where the hearts of libraries lie: in the ability to stretch beyond boundaries and in new directions to meet the needs and interests of the community.  I keep hearing all the doom and gloom stories ; but, I’m not seeing the evidence of this.

I get goosebumps thinking about the connections that could be made in a library laboratory.  My father faithfully goes to the library every weekend, sometimes every other weekend.  He goes in, picks up holds, picks out books off the shelves, checks out and then heads home.  I don’t think that he has ever gone to the library for a program or to research anything.  If there was a maker lab at his library, I suspect he’d drop in and check it out.  My father is a maker:  car mechanic, fixer, handy guy, artist and tinkerer.  So was his father.  Maker labs in the library are brilliant for so many reasons; but, my favorite is their ability to connect community in new ways and connect groups that might not have other opportunities to connect.  Forgive me for my stereotypes; but, one connection might be between my Dad and his peers (old car guys/tinkerers) and young crafty types (could be male or female).  Plus, the library is friendly and a group that might not walk into a machinery class, like teen girls, could be introduced to maker culture in an open and welcoming environment.

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”  Libraries are the perfect place for communities to gather and find the common ground that can begin this awakening.

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