I recently found an email that my then-supervisor, Tony Tallent, sent. He had challenged everyone in the outreach department to think of what a library means to them. This was in 2007 - I had been working for the library for 18 months.
Sometime in the next week, take at least 15 minutes to look up as many different definitions, ideas or philosophies about what LIBRARY means. Through that process formulate your own meaning, definition or philosophy for LIBRARY. How would you convey your own idea of LIBRARY to someone else? However works best for you to convey this is the right way (write it, sing it, draw it?).
What is a library, you ask?
A library is a focal point of the community. I looked up focal point in the dictionary and this is what I found: “the point at which all elements or aspects converge; center of activity or attention.” Isn’t that what we want? To offer such great programs, opportunities and information that people converge at the library? But where is the library? The library is everywhere. We aren’t just four walls, a floor and a ceiling. The library is in the community. We are in the daycares and the senior centers, the schools and the businesses. The library leaves a wake in its path where the whole community can benefit. When someone is new to our city, seeks information, or is in need, they can come to us. We offer such a variety of services. Yes, we have books and videos, but we have so much more! We offer programs for every age, every race, every gender, every background, and most importantly, every seeking person. We even go beyond this, though, and strive to not only reach those who seek us, but those who are in need. We are passionate about our community to the point that we want every child to have a library card, every new mother to have a book for her baby, every senior citizen to benefit from our services, even by mail! We care enough to go into the community; we don’t just wait for the community to come to us.
Have you ever toured a model home and heard a room described as flex space? It might be the bonus room over the garage, an extra bedroom, or some other space that can be configured depending on various needs or desires. That’s what I picture in my head when I try to define library. A library is flex space. I’m not just referring to the physical environment of a library. This idea of flex space means we adapt and change, try new things, meet our users directly in the community. We’re flexible not just with our actual spaces, but with our programs and ideas as well. When we take a program out into the community, we’re creating that flex space right where the need exists. A library is flex space for the staff and the patrons. Visitors to the library can decide how much guidance they need from staff. Their experiences can be entirely self-directed or more structured. The choice is theirs. And the best part? One person’s experience doesn’t have to match anyone else’s. Individual and community needs are recognized and valued in this incredible, flexible institution we call a library.- J. Hyatt
Library: Quiet, calm, dusty, musty, Not!! Diversity, multicultural, lights, camera, action! Busy, busy, busy! Whew what a great place to be.- Y. Thomas
I have always had a reverent feeling for libraries. A library is just a building to some people, but not to me. I was the nerdy kid in school that loved library time and could browse for hours in the stacks. I equated finding a good book to finding treasure. I still do. I suppose I loved the feeling of losing yourself in a good book, and I have always loved being surrounded by books. All that knowledge just waiting to be soaked up…(sigh).
Now that Outreach is going outside of the four walls of the library buildings I recently redefined my perception of what a library is.
The library is portable knowledge.
I know that the library was already ‘portable’ as patrons could take the books with them, but now I’m talking about library services. When we go out in the community we are taking a piece of the library with us. I love how portable the library has become because I still get to be the nerdy kid who recommends her favorite books to people. Now I have the opportunity to be nerdy with a larger, more diverse group of people and it makes me very happy.
Library = portable.
- A. Craig
L earning information, experiences, languages, people, universe
I nfinite kingdom of experiments for humanity
B reaking the walls of ignorance
R ivers of opportunities to grow for all
A bides in the curious minds
R eason to believe in growth
Y es, oui, hai, ja, да, jawel, Sí for free thinking !!!
- I. Patterson
My grandmother took us to the library every day, to hear stories and enjoy programs of all kinds at our small neighborhood branch. In my neighborhood we had wonderful Librarians who assisted you with any school work assignments or helped you take on adventure through movies or books. Once I reached Middle and High School it was the social place to meet friends, hang out and, most of all, it was a safe haven from city noise. Yes, I was one of those bad kids who pluck your nerves daily and stay in the library all evening, clowning around until someone asked me to become a volunteer.
This is a dream job, where I can now share the joy of reading to other children who secretly love books, to expose literacy to a hidden community which some have left behind in resources and lastly to continue growing in a career I love.
What is a library?
A library is a collection of information, sources and services used by people, body, institution or individual.
(The library is still a safe haven for homeless, lost teens, tired moms and grandmothers. The library is still a place where you can learn new skills, have adventure through books or various media.
- C. Ellington
families, couples, individuals, groups, students, teachers, toddlers…
I think of a place filled not only with books, but with people. Yes the library has computers, magazines, Cd’s, videos, etc,etc, but I think that in this world where people have less and less contact with each other, the library provides that contact with an individual. How many times have we heard of someone getting stuck on the phone, on an automated call, only wanting to talk to a person. The library for me means seeing a face of an individual that can lead you to the answer you are looking for. Having families come together at a story time program, getting together with your friends to study, and learning about crocheting with others or sitting next to your beloved while each reads their book or magazine. The library means having personal service, where an employee will go to a senior’s home to help them find lost (hopefully misplaced) materials, or fight traffic to reach those who do not step into the four walls of a building. Without people the library would simply be a bunch of dusty stuff.
- V. Corral
Libraries are more akin to organisms than they are to organizations. Organizations are impersonal, data-driven and structure-minded institutions. These are everything the library is not, or at least should not be. Libraries are alive with people that engage in human contact in order to facilitate knowledge. Transactions should be measure in the currency of improvement and enjoyment instead of that of numbers; structure is there as a means to an end- knowledge exchange- not as the driven force to preserve the status-quo.
At a day and age where people have become more disconnected from others, where the public is well-versed in factoids but suffer from true-knowledge deprivation, how wonderful it is to still have libraries that offer human and intellectual treasures to both those actively searching and to the lucky ones who are searched for.
There is this poem by the Spanish writer, Juan Ramón Jiménez. It would go something like this:
"What is poetry?", you ask me
whilst you pierce my pupil with your pupil of ocean blue.
"What is poetry? and YOU of all people want to know?
Poetry is YOU.
To borrow this concept and to use a bit of author's license, I could say:
"What is a library?
(skipping the romantic stuff)
The library is YOU.
I'm thankful to have the job that I have and even more thankful that I so thoroughly enjoy it! Thanks especially to my supervisor, Meryle Leonard, and my department co-workers, Veronica Corral, Dot Siler, Amy Kukla, Varanrat Torok, Connie Ellington, and Irania Patterson. There are so many others that I've worked with along the way who have influenced and guided me through. To name a few - Julie Ward, Geri Sponaas, Tony Tallent, Emily Nanney, Joy Scott, Wanda Williams, Linda Sherman, Angela Craig, Jason Hyatt, Darcy Patai.
To me, the library is you. :)
Much love to you all.