The Quiet Library
Last night we took my nephew to a Twins game and road the Metro train there on back. On the way back we sat next to an older lady who asked where we were going. I told her Rochester and she replied she was headed to one of the towns that I support their library. I mentioned this to her and she said she doesn’t like to go to the library because it isn’t “quiet”.
I was kind of surprised a bit at this because I know this library, and they do some pretty amazing things and then I realized what she was saying. She didn’t like the library because it didn’t fit the stereotype of what she thought a library was. The library in question, engages with their patrons, talks to them openly, and does a lot of children’s programming. So much so that they run extra story times in the week just so the kids who cannot make the main one have a chance to attend. Kids are active during the storytimes, they are learning and experiencing, and often can be found marching around, or just shaking the wiggles out.
And I think that they do all these things is amazing. They are not jsut a place for people to come borrow a book, or look up information. The library is a place to engage their patrons, and provide a service. We live in a day and age that informaton is so readily available, in ways too much so. So many things are flying and everyone on a day to day basis, from all directions. That having information isn’t the issue anymore, it is processing it. It is become inspired, and being taught to think for oneself that is in danger, not information. And the library in question is doing a good job of that, engaging its patrons, and going above and beyond to inspire their younger patrons to think.
The roles of what libraries provides have changed, because te world has changed. And I think libraries who engage and provide a service to enrich their communities are the ones who will survive. Just providing a book and a place to read it isn’t enough anymore. People can do that at home from their chair with the touch of a button download a book without ever getting up. But to provide programming to enrich, and teach the community, that is (in my opinion) the role of the library. We have enough information that we can easily get, but what society needs is the ability to think and process it.
So while the lady on the train may not like her library because it isn’t quiet, I think that is a telling sign that the library is doing something right. So for those librarians out there who are reading this, don’t be quiet. Be loud, talk to your patrons, let the kids shake their wiggles out. For by doing so you are being relevant in a socity that so desparately needs you to help them think and process all the information that is out there.