chapter  6
8 Pages

Libraries as Agents of Social Change

All of our profiled libraries are grounded in the belief that the establishment of a library in a school or community will influence at least personal development and ultimately and collectively create a more literate and educated population. This is particularly true for the many new libraries in the developing world. Here we see that library development is a direct response to raised awareness of the challenges underlying hope for better lives. These libraries arise in communities that are marginalized and excluded from mainstream society. Libraries that explicitly foreground their mission as agents of social change focus their services and programs on influencing critical matters of social justice (particularly equity for women), health and hygiene, and poverty, and building local capacity for improved lives for all members of the community. In such visions for change, the community is heavily invested in the library as a partner within a wider initiative for change. This change process is grounded in an asset approach where the strengths of various players work together and entails a deeply respectful revival of cultural capital (Bourdieu 2008) and funds of knowledge (Moll et al. 1992), epistemology, and ways of teaching and learning. These libraries are often run by a local management committee consisting of representatives from all important sectors of the community and of course the librarian.