Community Is Bigger Than A Building

Public libraries across the nation are struggling to reopen their doors, with 47% saying they’re unsure when they will reopen to the public. Libraries are places of community and connection for everyone. People rely on the library for more than books and videos. Libraries offer social services like literacy programs, U.S. citizenship classes, continuing education, housing, and tax assistance. Libraries have also become a safe haven for people experiencing homelessness who need to access social services or simply use the public bathroom. COVID helps us understand that our community is bigger than a building. 

People want to feel close to a community even while being apart. 

Libraries, and all community spaces, are the pillars of every community. When the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country, spaces closed and people stayed in their homes. Social gatherings moved online, which helps us stay connected but doesn’t replace the real-world interactions. Businesses, community spaces, and public libraries adapted to the new normal and found ways to continue to serve communities. Since it seems like this will be the reality for a while now, adaptation is necessary to stay connected and continue to be the strong pillar communities need.

Staying Connected Beyond Buildings

Social distancing is hard because it’s contrary to human nature. Studies show that social connection is beneficial to our health, and lack of it is bad for our health. So much so that loneliness is considered a health hazard. Currently, people are experiencing a significant increase in depression and anxiety symptoms related to coronavirus. This common human experience is natural, considering human nature and our need for connection. 

Libraries and public spaces help create a sense of community and connection. So when libraries make their services and programs available through alternative methods, this helps to strengthen the bonds between the individuals of the community and the library institution. 

A Community Is The People, Not Just A Building 

It does make a difference for patron experience to have an updated space, lots of resources, new technology, and all of the amenities a library provides. But right now the community can’t use these facilities. We can’t gather around for storytime, or scan the isles for a book that piques our interest, or use computers, printers or other office services. We don’t get face time with friends and our favorite local librarian. We’re unable to sip a latte while we watch the kids play in the children’s area. Patrons directly benefit from these activities that happen within the physical walls of our libraries. 

Proactive library systems are right now shifting focus outside of the physical building and nurturing what actually makes up the community: the people.

The people are still here.

People still need programs and services.

People need a connection. 

Recognizing and speaking directly to this will help libraries and other public spaces stay connected to the people they serve, and further endearing patrons’ hearts to community institutions. Doing so can help us feel close even when we’re apart. 

Here are 5 ways to stay connected to your patrons even when your doors are closed. Would you like to know more about how WiFi analytics can benefit your library or community space? Book a demo and read what our partners are saying about us.