Face-to-face communication enables us to live healthier and happier lives. And, those who have it may be living longer for it, says author and psychologist Susan Pinker in her 2015 acclaimed book The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make us Healthier and Happier. I’ve just finished listening to this fascinating work, which is available to download for free from Hoopla with your Upper Dublin Library card (Start listening today! No waiting lists for Hoopla titles!). This book was referenced in another I had recently read about the history of American public libraries, and I’ve been drawn to the topic of personal interactions because I recognize their value in the work I do every day. I also find it a fascinating topic at this time in our history when face-to-face communication is at risk in a world that is becoming overwhelmed by the digital universe. I am reminded that just because we can replace face-to-face communications with online (and often remote) communications doesn’t mean we necessarily should. Our health and happiness may be at risk.
In the Chapter “It Take a Village to Raise a Centenarian” Pinker discusses how she began her research by investigating the villages of Sardinia, the 2nd largest Italian island, and home to one of the only places in the world where men live as long as woman (usually there’s a 5-7 year age gap). Even more astounding is the proportion of centenarians living there, “six times as many hundred-plus-year-olds as in any modern city (in some of the villages the ratio is ten to one).” One of my favorite parts of this story was when the author asked one centenarian, Zia Teresa, how it was that she had lived so long, and she replied, “it’s because they [her family and friends] love me.” What a simple and beautiful statement.
The book goes on, of course, but the message is clear—human beings are inextricably linked; we need to connect with one another. I see every day how important that is for the residents who connect with the staff and with others in the community through their time at the Library. Someone once said to me that she only sees neighbors and friends in two places in Upper Dublin—at George’s Marketplace (Shop n Bag at the time) and at the Library. It’s the importance of this, the library as a hub for face-to-face contact in the community, which inspires me most when I consider the future of libraries and library design.
You can help us become an important community hub in Upper Dublin. Just this week, the UDPL launched a community survey—UDPL Today & Tomorrow. Tell us how you use the library today and share your vision for tomorrow. Survey participants have a chance to win a Longwood Gardens family pass. Several lucky winners will have the chance to spend some quality time together with their loved ones in one of the most beautiful gardens in the world.