Library as Welcome Center

Primary author: Emilie Braunel

One of the most important dynamics for the long term health of a community is how well it can incorporate newcomers, especially those who do not have an existing social network to tap into.

What is in this tool?

This tool provides a series of considerations to help you see the library as a newcomer would. And to build resources that support them learning to make their way in their new town.

People move to rural areas for a number of reasons, such as: to escape city life, because they married into it, to take care of an aging parent, to be taken care of by an adult child, for a job, or simply because they passed through once and fell in love. 

Very commonly, the library is the first place they go in the short term for information and entertainment, and in the long term to meet people and learn more about what is really going on in town (because rural towns may look sleepy when you’re driving through, but there is always a lot happening). This puts libraries in an important dual role: de facto welcome center, and social connection matchmaker.

LISTEN: “About the newcomers coming to the library: I think it’s one of the library’s most important functions since we’re undergoing such rapid demographic change in this part of the county that people don’t really know why they’re so attracted to this area. And if they come to the library we have an opportunity to teach them something about what’s going on here why this is such a culturally rich place.” –Mimi, interview 7-3-02