The Collection All Around: Sharing Our Cities, Towns, and Natural Places. By Jeffrey T. Davis. Chicago, IL: ALA, 2017. 152 p. Paper $57.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-1505-9).

This book is not intended to be a guide to creating outreach opportunities, nor to bringing experiences into the library. Instead, it is an attempt to bring awareness to creating shared access between libraries and their communities. Davis creates a strong argument that public libraries are not just isolated spaces but rather a well-integrated part of any community. As such, libraries have the unique opportunity and skill set to foster shared access to resources outside the library that patrons may not otherwise be aware of or capable of accessing for various reasons, including socioeconomic and physical access difficulties. Davis defines improving this access as an effort that combines outreach, customer service, event management, collection development, and acquisitions. This in turn raises the library’s visibility in the community, along with that of its community partners.

The author has divided the book into several chapters based on different ways that libraries can provide shared access within the community. Each of these chapters outlines an idea for how to accomplish this goal, describes in detail how other libraries in the United States have carried out projects along these lines, and points out where their successes and challenges lie. These examples provide some wonderful ideas about how libraries can take on projects of their own as well as how well they might work in different communities. Because each community library has its own challenges and strengths, it is important that the reader keep these in mind while looking at how some other libraries have created these access points.

As one example of creating shared access, Davis covers library membership at the start of the book, claiming that access to the library creates a sense of belonging in a community and is therefore an excellent place to start. He discusses examples of how libraries have expanded on membership, such as tying library loaning privileges to other community access points via a single card. New York City public libraries use this approach with the city’s municipal ID cards, which also serve as official identification and discount cards to various city venues. Using library membership to provide access to transportation is another idea explored in this chapter. Other chapters address programs in which the library checks out passes to local attractions, museums, and historical sites; develops guides and community-event information for patrons; creates safe and welcoming spaces around the library; and connects patrons and community members to the natural world around them through park passes, nature programs, and inviting natural spaces around the library.

This book is strongly recommended for public libraries with an interest in and time for exploring opportunities outside of the branch and working on ways to provide access to them. It is an excellent source of ideas and resources for providing your patrons with better access to your community.—Teralee ElBasri, Librarian, La Prade Branch Library, North Chesterfield, Virginia


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