When in Doubt, Go to the Library? Libraries & Rural Creative Placemaking

B. Kathleen Gallagher


As rural communities confront increasing challenges and escalating social problems, a variety of interventions have been proposed, including creative placemaking. Creative placemaking is a bottom-up approach to cultural policy development (Redaelli, 2018 that derives from embedding the arts in cross-sector collaboration to produce location-specific social and economic impacts (Markusen & Gadwa, 2010). Libraries in urban and suburban environments have advocated for and demonstrated their abilities to partner in creative placemaking processes. Do rural communities may possess a magic potion to support creative placemaking? “Because it’s what Hermione does…When in doubt, go to the library,” Ron Wesley tells Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling, 1998, p. 255). This research note investigates the practices and capacities of rural libraries to participate in creative placemaking. Relying on data from the Library Services Survey, conducted by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and scans of websites, the authors presents the descriptive statistics of capacity indicators and evidence of creative placemaking from 170 rural libraries in Texas. This investigation finds major constraints in the capacities of rural libraries. It concludes with steps to continue advancing the understanding of organizational capacity, rural libraries, and creative placemaking in rural areas.

Keywords: rural communities, creative placemaking, libraries

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.