PLA 2018: The Key Takeaway for Public Libraries

March 27, 2018 / by Michael Buckenmeyer

Librarians walking into the PLA 2018 conference.In 2018, remaining relevant requires more than ebooks and genealogy databases. Libraries are now asking how they can engage every member of the community. 

 PLA 2018 was all about creating library communities

Libraries are reaching out to marginalized groups and non-traditional organizations like for-profit businesses to see how they can fit into the library framework; not just as users, but also as resource providers. Across speakers, sessions, vendors, and attendees, the topic of conversation was creating and connecting with communities. Diversity and inclusion are key qualifiers for this conversation about community, as libraries need staff, patrons, and advocates from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Throughout the conference, librarians packed into sessions on Latina/o outreach, supporting patrons of color, inclusive library staffing, and addressing the needs of homeless populations, just to name a few.



Expanding the definition of who the library is and serves is part of a broader shift from the public library as a transactional entity to a relational one. The library must no longer exist as a hub for physical or even digital books, where interaction begins and ends with a checkout. Communities are asking for spaces to come together, learn, and create. Accordingly, circulation will continue to drop and program numbers will go up. As put by Outreach Librarian Kara Brehm, “Community engagement and one-on-one interaction are where libraries are going.”


How can my library connect with the community?

Think through the following three questions with your library staff and patrons:

  1. Does my library have a transactional or a relational focus?

  2. How is my library including diverse patrons in the community?

  3. How can my library improve accessibility to digital resources?


By engaging all members of the community, libraries will be able to provide access to the resources needed and tap into new creative forces previously unattainable. Here at Mango Languages, we want to support your efforts to engage with diverse communities through language and culture learning with our collection of promotional materials available on Mango Market, including the all-new designs displayed at our PLA booth. Click below to check out the new resources we've developed for our public library customers and begin connecting with diverse cultures in your community today!


Start Connecting


How do you plan to engage with diverse members in your community this year? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Topics: Public Libraries

Michael Buckenmeyer

Written by Michael Buckenmeyer

Michael is Mango Languages' Social Marketing Specialist. Between writing, designing, and video editing for Mango Languages' social channels, you'll find him practicing his listening skills with Arabic hip hop.

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