“It feels like coming home”
Oh, this was so true! To be in room with 500 librarians working in small libraries was so liberating! Librarians from Alaska, Michigan, Vermont, California, Arkansas. On 1 person, 2 person, 3 person staffs. With minuscule budgets. And long hours. And nobody said libraries are obsolete, nobody suggested that all we do is read books all day, nobody asked why we do what we do for so little money. Everybody was talking about all the things I wanted to talk about: how to make that tiny budget work harder, new program ideas for older adults, how to promote the library, who has to clean the bathroom, how to deal with cranky patrons, how to…. Everybody understood.
“You can do this”
“You can create professional looking promotional materials with no graphic arts background and no marketing budget.” “You can sing and dance and be as silly as a three year old.” “You can revamp your library tech so it runs faster and cheaper.” Every session inspired me to DO THINGS. To change things that aren’t working, to try new things, to make things better. And showed me the way to use the skills I already have and the skills I can tap into in my own community.
“Hell is meant for those who do not read”
Can I hang this on the front wall of my library? As a librarian’s battle cry? Dr. Black’s story of his first library experience was a reminder of the powerful things a library can do. When the librarian in the story declaims these words to the young Dr. Black, she opens the world of knowledge and possibility to him and puts him on the path of those who make a difference. Libraries can do that. It is our fundamental mission.
“You never know when you’ll have to be a cataloger.”
A reminder to not get too caught up in all the other stuff we do. As libraries evolve to become community centers and our role in the community expands to include all kinds of fun things, serious things, things Marion the Librarian never would have dreamed of, we have to remember that we have to continue to be a library in the traditional sense. We still have to be purveyors of information first. We still have to put the book on the shelf.
“Now watch me whip, Now watch me nae nae”
Oh, let’s be real. Sometimes I just want to be silly and have fun. And there is nothing sillier than a 58 year old woman learning to do the Stanky Leg. ARSL 2015 was fun. Meeting new friends, dine arounds, playing trivia in a local bar (and coming in second!), the song stylings of the organizing committee, late night lobby conversations. Whipping and nae nae-ing. I had a lot of fun.
“Your community doesn’t come to the library for the books, they come for YOU”.
At first I thought of Architect Zach Benedict’s comment as a pat on the back. A sign of the great job we are doing. But the more I think about it the more I realize it is really a challenge. It is call to all of us to take those little 2 person staffs and miniscule budgets and be better. To work hard to open up the world for our patrons. To keep putting books on the shelf. To be a little silly. To create a great library that serves our communities in ways that only a library can, by never losing sight of the fact that we are people serving people.
And the last thing I heard at ARSL 2015 that I can’t stop thinking about…
I can’t wait for Fargo.
Swisher Community Library