Social Outcomes of Special Event Programming:
King County Library System’s “Voices from the Rim” (2001 - 2002)

In her 2001 article “Where are libraries in “Bowling Alone”?” Jean Preer chastised Robert Putnam for ignoring the role of public libraries in building communities in his influential works about the decline of social capital in America. Preer’s anecdotal observations coincided with findings from our research on how public library-community networking initiatives affect community. Further inspired to study how libraries foster social capital, we partnered with the King County Library System (KCLS) in Washington State.

To expand awareness of Asian/Pacific Rim culture, and the local effects of immigration from these countries, KCLS hosted “Voices From the Rim” from September 15-30, 2001. Throughout its 42 branches in the Seattle area, different events celebrated authors and the cultural life of these countries, including storytelling, art, drama workshops, multi-media presentations, dance and music performances, from Na Lei O Manu’akepa (a Hawaiian island dance and cultural program) to Sumi-E (Japanese brush painting) and Amuta (Music from the Andes).