Those of you working in established libraries may be tempted to skip this section. However, if you are having problems with community support and involvement, you might find some good ideas here (and under Community Involvement below). This chapter can help you rethink your library service, and if necessary, make plans to change it or even shut it down.
How can those of you who are thinking about establishing a library decide if your community really needs one? You can start by making a list of the information resources already available in your community. Your list might include newspapers, radio, community centres, or television. People are also great resources and your list should include people who provide the community with information. They could be taxi drivers or merchants who bring in news from other towns, nurses, pharmacists, older community members, extension agents, successful farmers, religious leaders, healers or anyone whose opinions are generally respected. Ask community members who they go to with questions about health, agriculture, sewing, child care or family problems. The answers may differ for older and younger people, men and women, and/or richer and poorer people. Remember that people with different educational, ethnic and religious backgrounds may also go to different people for help and advice. Be sure to talk with a variety of people to get a complete picture of the information resources in your community. Your community information resource list could be the first item for the new library!