Wednesday, April 2, 2008

How a library can become a part of the community

I came across a nice site devoted to the history of Long Island's South Shore. Knowing a number of towns on Long Island, I know there are some places where families have lived for centuries, so one can't underestimate what a community can contribute to documenting itself.

What's so intriguing about the site is that it's not static. Instead, it's a wiki (using PmWiki software), enabling residents, historians and other interested parties to participate in sharing its knowledge of the history of the community. I believe that is going to be the future of the best websites (i.e. the ones that get the most hits) - their ability to be interactive, to enable participation, and their ability to change.

If that were not enough, I then realized the sponsor of the site: not some association, but the Dowling College Library Archives and Special Collections! Here is a library which takes an active role in fostering the community it serves (or at least offers a community project).

It's probably too much to ask most librarians (especially those with large collections) to assume such active roles in communities. But it does suggest the possibilities than can occur when librarians find a niche not covered by others.

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