A funny thing happened to me the other evening when I was beginning to teach a summer reading program class on journal making. I was seated at a table with 4 ladies and a patron came up to shush us and to remind us that we were in a library. A quite embarrassed hush came over the table and we proceeded to spend an hour being creative in a reserved tone.
Our libraries are going through changes and adjustments to the new normal at a library. We are communicating through social media, blogging, and opening our libraries to new activities. As the library community builder for the Marin County Free Library I work to bring patrons to the library for new experiences as part of my duties.
I thought about being shushed all the way home. We are can no longer be just our patrons’ study but are hoping to become their family room/great room. The changes in our library’s electronic information access is not just the issue. It also is important to attract new visitors and to continue to offer a satisfying visit to the library for existing patrons. This week I taught a craft class with 39 children creating an amazing energy in the branch. Parents engaged with their children and visited with each other.
Of course we must respect traditional patron library experiences. However, we should welcome all of our patrons. Today teenagers need to be engaged and attracted to our branches. We must offer stimulating activities as well as book recommendations and homework help. Children bring laughter and energy to the library. We want the library to be a welcoming and exciting place to visit for a small child to a mature adult.
This is a tough assignment and we must be up to the task to keep our libraries community treasures.