Finding Each Other at The Library
By Jennifer Hilton. Jennifer is one of a group of Haven faculty members who offer talks and presentations away from The Haven. Find out more about Haven Speakers here.
“People may go to the library looking mainly for information, but they find each other there.” – Robert D. Putnam
This quote rings true to me for a lot of places. For certain it is my experience of libraries … and of The Haven.
Over the last year, as part of my Core Plus role at The Haven, and with our mandate of “expanding and engaging externally”, I have had opportunities to re-engage with community libraries. I have given Haven communication and relationship based public talks at a few libraries in Vancouver – the photograph above is from Building Relationships That Work at the Kitsilano Library. I have been pleasantly surprised to see who came to the talks and discover the services community libraries provide.
Based on what I have seen, libraries seem to be places where people come to know themselves and their communities. New moms connect at children’s story-times; elderly people, often facing difficult life transitions, attend events and find that they make new friends; and teenagers meet up in libraries’ teen spaces after school. In libraries, community-building connections are happening all the time. Libraries can also serve as catalysts for addressing social problems by providing gathering places for people of diverse backgrounds and ages to meet. And most poignant today, libraries provide immigrants with helpful information about, and opportunities to connect with, their new communities.
I appreciate how The Haven and libraries seem to be aligned in so many ways. At The Haven, we work with people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, who have an aspiration for richer connections with themselves and others at home, work, and in community. The Haven offers an alternative to the serious impact of social isolation, blame and polarization in our world by educating people in self-responsible relational living.
Technology continues to change the way the world works, and The Haven and libraries are no exception. I used to love going to the library when I was a kid and especially loved the “Book Mobile”! The smell of the books and the friendly librarian that was always helpful in finding me the book “just right for me.” Later, the library became a place of study and research and even later, when I became a parent, a place for me and my son to go and meet other families and take in the story-telling hour.
Today, as a Haven faculty member, I am looking forward to partnering further with libraries in my community by offering more public talks and potentially providing volunteer facilitation services to host community and Haven education based dialogues.
I encourage you to visit your local library and see what they have to offer you … and of course, let us know if you see any opportunities for The Haven to expand into your community.