I spend a lot of time in libraries. They are good. But could be much better.
Eric Klinenberg spent a year researching libraries for his book Palaces for the People.
How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life
Social infrastructure is the glue that binds communities together, and it is just as real as the infrastructure for water, power, or communications, although it’s often harder to see.
But Eric Klinenberg says that when we invest in social infrastructures such as libraries, parks, or schools, we reap all kinds of benefits. We become more likely to interact with people around us, and connected to the broader public. If we neglect social infrastructure, we tend to grow more isolated, which can have serious consequences.
I heard Klinenberg interviewed on the 99% Invisible podcast. His argument was compelling.
I’d love to see libraries expand their programs. Increase the hours they are open.
Libraries are unofficial sanctuaries for street people, at least during daylight. That should be formalized.
Libraries could be much, much better.