The needs of individuals in socially excluded communities are the same as individuals in other communities. All want material well-being, physical well-being, security, freedom of choice and action and the option for social inclusion.

The focus of the Working Together Project was to take a community development approach to putting library skills and resources at the service of the community. By working with socially excluded individuals and the community organizations that support them, the Working Together Project built connections between the resources of the library and the community’s understanding of it’s needs.

But socially excluded people are often voiceless in their communities and so understanding their needs, wants and desires requires more than a willingness to listen. Understanding means a willingness to seek out and work with socially excluded people so they can voice their needs and libraries can hear what is being asked of them.

Librarians have important skills and information to share with socially excluded communities and socially excluded communities have important things to share with librarians. The relationships that grow from a community development approach can inform the policies and procedures of the library by revealing those systemic barriers to library use that may have kept socially excluded people from walking through library doors.