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The Library-Community Convergence Framework for Community Action: Libraries as Catalysts of Social Change


This paper presents a library-community convergence framework (LCCF) to extend the library’s role to participate more fully in community action and enhance its role as a proactive catalyst of social change, as compared to a sometimes perceived role of bystander. The LCCF for community action is relevant in the contemporary context of changing public demographics and an increasing need for library interactions with ethnic and multicultural publics. It provides a holistic approach for libraries to extend their existing functionalities and serve as catalysts for community-wide advocacy for people on the margins. The paper discusses select application of the LCCF for community action in two qualitative research studies with local immigrant communities and sexual minorities, that use methods pioneered in ethnographic outreach and participatory action research (PAR) respectively. We briefly present our field-based research in these two cases and connect them to our advocacy of the LCCF.

Ethnographic methods in the first study provide understanding of cross-cultural issues and uncover how local immigrant classifications can be induced from an ethnographic perspective to generate library classifications and information services that are locally relevant and empowering. PAR ideologies in the second study underlie implementation of library and information interventions and community action while partnering with local sexual minorities and their allies, to address specific and contextualized community facets in ways that may promote community-wide social changes. Points of intersection from the two studies help identify key elements in the LCCF framework that extend the role of libraries as leaders and cultural planners of progressive community-based action.

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