Public libraries located in rural locations have unique capabilities to generate social well-being outcomes in their communities. Through conversations with over 200 people in eight remote towns across the US, we heard rural residents describe the “good life” in their own terms and the ways in which their local public libraries enriched that life. Janet from Marshfield summed up our findings before we had found them:

Listen: “So I think it’s human nature that we want to be part of a group, that we can feel like we are heard, and and we can make some difference.”

Key findings include:

  • Rural residents prioritize social connection and nature over access to amenities.
  • Rural libraries connect residents in a variety of ways, over time, impacting core vitality and security in their unique communities.
  • Rural library directors are bonded to the community, described as selfless and engaged, and are seen as both belonging themselves and active in creating belonging in others.

We’re committed to transparency and open access.

Through each phase of this project, the data generated, methods used, and resulting analysis are all stored in the Rural Library Service project in Open Science Framework. There you’ll find our initial quantitative data analysis on library service in resource poor geographiesinterview methodologies, the pre-print of our primary paper and more.