Return to the Real: The Library as Social Connector

Betha Gutsche and Jennifer Peterson /

Please view the recording of the WebJunction webinar, The Library as Social Connector: Forging Community Connection, which builds on this ALA session.

Slides and resources from a session presented as part of the Symposium on the Future of Libraries, at the 2019 ALA Midwinter Conference. Thank you to American Libraries for their writeup on the session, Getting Real Again.

Session Description: There is increasing evidence of a renewed interest in the analog world, especially among teens and 20-somethings. In Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter, researcher David Sax tracks the revival of preferences for vinyl records, board games, etc., that arouse the joy of creating and possessing real, tangible things. Layered onto that are numerous studies and stories about loneliness and depression as a result of too much time spent on social media. The steady loss of social capital --the bonds formed when community members share real-time experiences together-- over the last few decades may actually be eroding our health and well-being. Analog activities that bring people together physically satisfy a desire for human interaction that virtual connections miss. Active learning programs that offer hands-on, participatory activities not only enhance individual learning but can go further to cement social connection when people are learning and doing together.

Libraries are a magnet for social connection, offering that sense of community and shared place that humans as social animals crave. Libraries are already creating many analog opportunities (makerspaces, digital media labs, learning circles, board game play, etc.). But often the emphasis is more on the technologies and less on the capitalization of social connection. This session will discuss these library programs through the lens of their social possibilities, with the goal of leveraging them to intentionally create social capital in the community.

Through group planning and discussion, participants will formulate actions that they can take back to their own libraries to augment the social connection in their analog programs.

Presented by: Betha Gutsche, WebJunction Programs Manager, OCLC; and Jennifer Peterson, WebJunction Community Manager, OCLC

Session Slides (pdf)

Group Notes from Session (doc)

Let's stay connected! Share your ideas, resources, and library program ideas with the hashtag #libsocialconnect

Related Resources