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The starting point for me in this book project was when I became enamored in the concept of social networks (a hot topic now, but one that has been discussed at length over many decades). After writing my first book, I was eager to start another one and brought up the concept of social networks and libraries. While the idea sounded worthwhile, I had a gut feeling that it was missing something. It didn’t have the “umph” factor that Keeping Current did. It needed something else to solidify a valid concept.

That’s when I met Chrystie, and the debate began. Like Chrystie, I enjoy debate (one of the reasons I watch Fox news). I hate it when I speak to an audience and everyone nods in agreement, or post to my blog and all the citations and commentary involves “Here Heres”, or “You said its.” Chrystie and I make a great team because we disagree on many points and that will be reflected in this blog and, at some points, in the book.

Chrystie introduced me to the concept of online communities (Yes, I actually stood up and clapped) at the same time I started reading about social capital. Both were perfect for the “umph” factor that I needed for the book.

So, I asked Chrystie to join me on this project and she accepted (It was not an afterthought, it was the impetus that drove the book proposal). I’m thrilled to start working on this book and to create a process-based approach to community building through our nations libraries.

Here’s how it started…

This is a blog about community building for libraries. It’s supporting a book Steven and I plan to publish next year, but we hope will do much more than just support a book. We hope to engage all of our colleagues in a discussion on community building, and the work librarians do to support it. Why community building? Why a book? Here’s how the project got going…

In February of last year, Library Journal published this little ditty about online communities and Steven stood up and clapped.

In June, we met f2f at OCLC’s BlogSalon and discussed somewhat “combatively” whether or not list-servs are dead. And because I like it when people disagree with me, I asked Steven to review a pre-pub copy of a new piece on librarians and IT a few months later. This started our bantering here and there about how librarians relate to and build communities (both online and off). Finally, perhaps as an afterthought, Steven asked me if I wanted to co-author a book about libraries and community building (how old school! how romantic!). I said yes, we pitched it to ALA, they liked it, and here we are.

Our URL says it all: libraries build communities. Over the next year we intend to uncover the many hundreds of ways librarians all over the county are doing so, bake it down into a process we can all think about and reuse, get the best of it into the text of this blog and in between the pages of a printed book, and spur a community building outlook through which we can push everything we do in libraries.

We hope that you’ll help us by telling your story. For starters, we’ll be at ALA – Midwinter. If you’re around on Sunday night, right after the blog salon, we’ve got a table for 20 to get the conversation going. Let us know if you’d like to join us. Crashers welcome, of course.

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