Saturday, October 20, 2007

Imagine.... Exercise 15

Readers of my new blog are not usually my fellow librarians, but people from all walks of my life: library customers, especially the ones who have known me forever, or who have similar tastes in books, friends near and far, family, the nice guy who cuts my hair, etc. I let them know I am involved in this "23 Things" exercise, and some of them are curious enough to take a look. Because I envison that varied group as my audience, I find myself translating the library world to them. In this exercise, we examine the term Library 2.0, not a term most people are familiar with.

Well, briefly: Library 2.0 is all about making the library customer-centric, nurturing the library as a destination/a front porch/a "third place", growing the library in all sorts of directions to meet customer needs. Also involved is the concept that we provide services beyond our walls (electronically and otherwise). To quote futurist Dr. Wendy Schultz, "Libraries are not just collections of documents and books, they are convocations of people, ideas and artifacts in dynamic exchange."

What strikes me most about this heady concept is the challenge facing librarianship. We need to attract deeply creative people who are ready to surf these waves of change. Do library graduate school programs encourage the practice and cultivation of creativity? How can library systems nurture staff towards the "infinite future"?

The brainstorming has begun. For me, the most beguiling concept involves partnership. As someone in midlife who values every spare minute of time, I can imagine a one stop "third place" which would include a library offering books and AV in many formats (books still come first for me), reference materials, free internet, wise librarians who can help steer me in the right direction should I need information or reading advice AND, like spokes in a wheel -- other agencies all on the same piece of real estate. People could flow from the library to a community building, learning center, gym, spa, swimming pool, meditation garden, museum, coffee bar or picnic place. Somehow (??!!!) this centric place wouldn't be too overcrowded, or taxing on users finding their way from place to place. Yes, there would be daycare for toddlers and afterschool crowds. Yes, there would be quiet rooms where children and loud noises would not intrude. There would be an unprecedented level of cooperation and collaboration amongst the agencies. There would be more "wholeness" for all involved. More self fulfillment. More inter-connectedness. Imagine!

Public libraries are the ultimate democratic institution, one I have been proud to work within. I have confidence we will not disappear. We will thrive and flourish. Imagine!

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