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“Vital Assets”: Libraries as Partners in Community Development

Challenging the “Jacks of All Trades but Masters of None” Librarian Syndrome

ISBN: 978-1-78756-904-1, eISBN: 978-1-78756-903-4

ISSN: 0732-0671

Publication date: 8 October 2018


In 2015, the UN General Assembly introduced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2014, in anticipation of the SDGs, the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) released the Lyon Declaration, asserting that the right to access information, and the skills to use it, is essential for development. Simply put, there can be no sustainable development without access to information. So, as the world looks toward sustainable development in the information age, what role should libraries play in meeting communities’ needs? Sustainable development, whether on a local or global scale, requires that people have access to information in order to improve their abilities to make informed choices about their lives, livelihoods, and communities. Sustainable development is important for all communities, everywhere, and access to information is just one way libraries can contribute to development initiatives. Libraries, especially public libraries, provide not only traditional access to information but also engaged services and programs that are community centered. This chapter will explore the ways in which the profession at large is plugging into the SDGs, with a particular focus on the work that IFLA is doing to connect libraries to development. It will highlight a specific form of community development – Asset-Based Community Development, which focuses on using the strengths and capacities that already exist in communities of all sizes and economic statuses – as a theoretical and practical model to help librarians understand and leverage their own assets as they collaborate with their communities on building individual and community capacity. It will argue that an asset-based approach to integrating our services into the larger trend of sustainable community development can provide us with both direction for day-to-day engagement with our communities and an important way to reimagine our value.



Edwards, J.B. (2018), "“Vital Assets”: Libraries as Partners in Community Development", Challenging the “Jacks of All Trades but Masters of None” Librarian Syndrome (Advances in Library Administration and Organization, Vol. 39), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 1-14.



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