Access to global information has exploded along with people’s concern with minimizing their carbon footprint and “acting locally.” This has affected the purpose of the library, so that the Library is – most of all – a place for people to gather. The focus is on promoting neighborhood cohesion and fostering face-to-face exchange among people.
Individuals and families use the libraries for reading, work and study. Groups use the libraries for collaborative learning, literary, cultural and civic exchange, and community meetings. The Library offers extensive programming. The library emphasizes shared experiences around content instead of collecting content. Circulating print material and media is a much smaller part of library services.
Library spaces can accommodate multiple groups of different sizes – either as stand-alone libraries or in joint-use spaces with other public services or community organizations.
The Library is a community builder in partnership with others, supporting a high quality of neighborhood and civic life. It facilitates people learning from and engaging with each other. New immigrants learn about the community from their neighbors. Teens learn from first-generation college students about the promise of higher education. Aspiring entrepreneurs learn from successful business people. Neighbors gather to address community issues. A shared community loan program is developed in one library. In another, a neighborhood oral history project is launched.
Each library – how it is used, what material is available, what services are provided – is very different from the other libraries because specific community needs are different. SPPL might maintain both a physical and digital gallery for each library of content created by children, teens, adults in the neighborhood.
SPPL’s primary investment is in staff and buildings. In addition to managing the circulation of print and digital material, staff acts as facilitators, hosts, conveners, and community organizers.