I was chatting to our local branch librarian at our monthly knitting group the other day. Colleen reminds me very strongly of librarians of my childhood. They actively encouraged my reading exploits, turning a blind eye when I took out extra books on my Mum’s library card and never questioning the speed with which I returned books and claimed new ones.
In many ways the library was my second home when I was growing up, a source of endless entertainment. It never occurred to me that there might have been a time when libraries didn’t exist or – oh horror! – when people might think that they’re no longer of value.
Librarians fight an uphill battle to ensure that libraries continue to be perceived as relevant. It’s no longer just about books. In order to keep up with the times, libraries need to lobby for extra funds and show statistics as to why they need to update their infrastructure. They introduce on-site coffee shops, provide play areas for littlies, computer terminals, Ebooks, video, internet access, talks and activities, as well as training courses. It’s all about providing what the customers need – or they simply won’t come through the doors.
Colleen isn’t at our library much at present as she’s been temporarily reassigned to one of the other branch libraries to get it up to speed. She’s started that process by clearing out a lot of unnecessary clutter, opening the space up and making it more attractive to users. This included getting rid of a truly dire decorative installation that had been in place for years, rehoming the old vhs recordings that nobody borrows anymore (old technology!) and updating the window displays to be interesting and inviting. The staff’s been given a bit of a shake up by all the changes, but seem to be coping pretty well.
I find the my loyalties are now well and truly split as to which library to use… particularly since Colleen has decided to introduce a once-a-moth daytime knitting session at library #2, starting on the first Thursday in April…
Luckily, the smartest card in my wallet works at both libraries – and going to both knitting groups just might result in my current project being completed by the end of winter 🙂