The Importance of Community

The Daniel Boone Regional Library vision statement begins, “DBRL strives to be at the heart of the community…” Public libraries are so much more than a place to store books, and one of the most important things they do is to help build community. In our library, we work toward this in many ways.

Libraries are some of the few public venues where you don’t have to spend money to spend time. We provide meeting spaces for local groups. We promote civic engagement by supplying voter registration forms, hosting election forums, and serving as a polling location on Election Day. A wide variety of programs bring together community members from all backgrounds, ages, living situations and abilities. We also serve active online communities through social media pages, such as the Read Harder Challenge Discussion Group on Facebook.

Of course we have books, too. Here are a few titles about the value of community.

Book cover: Mutualism, Sara HorowitzMutualism” by Sara Horowitz takes a look at the history of mutual aid movements and provides a suggested roadmap for the future. She provides a variety of examples in which people have worked “together to solve their own problems, even the most intractable ones.” This encompasses everything from food co-ops to the civil rights movement and is discussed with the view that humans live in an ecosystem, where we depend on each other to thrive.

Author Priya Basil has family ties and lived experiencesBook cover: Be My Guest, Priya Basil rooted in multiple countries and cultures. Her book, “Be My Guest: Reflections on Food, Community, and the Meaning of Hospitality,” is a mix of memoir, philosophy and food writing. She speaks about how food can be used to bridge divides and bring people together. Everyone, at some point in life, will find themselves in the role of a guest who needs hospitality and generosity from others. So it behooves us to learn how to be gracious hosts.

Book cover: Dementia-friendly Communities, Susan H. McFaddenHealthy communities need to be able to support the needs of all members. In “Dementia-friendly Communities,” Susan H. McFadden makes the case for putting every effort into welcoming people with dementia as full and active participants in society. In the Netherlands, for instance, there’s a dementia village designed to meet the needs of residents in ways that are familiar to them. She suggests focusing on strengths more than on losses, and being mindful of the language we use when discussing dementia. Behavior that’s sometimes labeled disruptive is often simply an attempt to communicate. McFadden points out that social isolation makes negative symptoms worse. I would suggest this is true for all of us, not only those with dementia.

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