HuffPo has a great post on why you should be taking your child to the library. It begins with the author of the article talking about using the library as a child and learning to write her name just in order to get her own library card.
She then goes on to list five reasons to use the library as a parent with your child:
- Reading is brain food, and using the library leads to more reading.
- You gain access to more books and other materials than you could buy on your own.
- Your children’s librarian can tell you about books you would otherwise have missed.
- Libraries are not shushing places anymore, they are active and fun.
- A library card teaches responsibility.
I would add a couple more:
- You have access to a variety of free programs for your child to participate in right at their developmental level.
- You can meet other parents with children your age and have impromptu playdates right in the library.
- You can grab books and movies for yourself too!
I just can’t stop giggling at these fifties-style paperback covers converted to library humor. There are things here for everyone who has worked in a library:
Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin states in his budget proposal that IMLS should be eliminated. As a Wisconsinite I am mortified. Thankfully though ALA has responded to his budget proposal with firm statistics:
In Rep. Ryan’s own state of Wisconsin, more than 65 percent of libraries report that they are the only free access point to Internet in their communities. Just blocks from Rep. Ryan’s Wisconsin office, more than 716,000 visitors used the Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, Wisconsin to access library computers and research databases, check out books and receive job training in 2013. The Institute of Museum and Library Services administered more than $2.8 million in the 2014 fiscal year to help Wisconsin libraries prepare young students for school and provide lifelong learning opportunities for all Wisconsin residents. For example, the state reported that more than 215,000 children participated in summer reading programs at Wisconsin public libraries.
As librarians we are asked all the time about whether there is any real need for libraries in the modern day. I’m old enough to have been a librarian when the Internet came along and we got that same question then. We need to start making sure that our libraries are far more than book repositories, we must be seen as community centers, community builders and locally-focused organizations. We must forge connections, serve as the catalyst for local projects, and be the voice for the forgotten in the community.
Stepping down from the soap box.
Booktrust has done a study in the UK of 1500 adults and their reading habits. It turns out that on average, the richer the person’s background, the more likely they are to read.
- “More frequent readers tend to live in areas of lower deprivation and fewer children living in poverty.”
- Adults in the highest socio-economic background own twice as many books as those from the lowest backgrounds.
- 83% of those from the richest group also believe that reading improves their lives, compared to 72% from the lowest.
One of the more fascinating results of the survey show that people who read regularly tend to be more satisfied with life in general. They are happier and are more likely to feel their life is worthwhile.
So not only does reading educate and entertain, it can also make you happier! Now that’s something to trumpet as libraries.
Why libraries are important.
Here at Appleton, we have been discussing the future of libraries fairly intensely for over a year. What will our community need from us going forward? What will the library of the future need? How will it be different from today’s library?
It’s a discussion that every library needs to be having.
There are a couple of great articles out there about these issues:
Public Libraries Online has a great article from the director of the Skokie Public Library, Carolyn Anthony.
Will these new organizational units become as entrenched as the traditional technical services, adult services, and youth services? I hope not because we need to be much more nimble to respond to the continuing changes in our communities and in the broader environment in which public libraries operate.
Take a look at how Skokie is adapting to the future along with other libraries and you will be inspired.
The Atlantic Cities has a great one about the library of the future. I love this quote:
"If we can’t shine in this environment, in this economy, shame on us," says Corinne Hill, the director of library system in Chattanooga, Tennessee—a system that has thoroughly migrated into the current era.
Is that the way your library is approaching things? With optimism but also by moving forward and embracing the changes?
Libraries have been given the advice to tell their story for years and years. If we can manage to show our impact through stories, it humanizes what we do. Statistics are all fine and good, but unless we can make them into something worth telling others, they are dry and lifeless.
Marketing the Social Good has a great article about organizational storytelling. I appreciate that he doesn’t just say that it’s important, since we all know that. Instead, he walks through how to map out your organization’s story. He uses the framework of the hero’s story from Joseph Campbell and doing it like that allows the drama to enter, the story to really resonate.
This is the best and most concrete advice I have seen for creating the story of your organization that is repeatable and memorable.
This morning I found two great articles about leadership in general that apply beautifully to leading in libraries as well.
The first is from Fast Company that offers 6 Management Lessons from Visionary Women Leaders. The article offers advice from six women at the top of their fields of business. These are women running companies like GM, Burberry, and J Crew. Their advice is not about being a woman in these jobs, but about how they lead. The focus is on decision making, tackling problems, creating energy and staying creative.
The second article is from Forbes and is about the importance of emotion in being a leader. The article speaks to the importance of how leaders respond to challenges with continuous learning and a fresh eye. Good leaders inspire and then get out of the way. They are honest, kind and respectful of the people who work for them. They collaborate and partner with people.
These two articles echo and support one another. If you are looking for inspiration for being a leader in your library in the new year, these articles can help.
Pew Internet has released the results of a new survey today that speaks to the way that Americans view the importance of public libraries. 90% of Americans 16 and older said that closing their local library would have an impact on their community and 63% said the impact would be a major one.
The study goes on to speak to the role libraries play and reflects some doubt by Americans about libraries ongoing importance in finding information. However, over 90% say that libraries are important for other reasons: giving everyone a chance to succeed, promoting literacy and love of reading, and improving quality of life.
The study also addresses which services Americans see as most important with books and media leading the way, followed by librarian assistance, having a safe and quiet place, and research resources. Which to me flies in the face of not seeing libraries as sources of information in the Internet age.
Just as with previous studies, this one reflects that even Americans who use their libraries actively do not know of all of the services they provide. The survey ends with the good news that 72% of Americans live in a “library household.”
School Library Journal has a fascinating article about a tween library space in Stockholm. There are several aspects that make this inspiring:
1. No adults are allowed inside except for librarians
2. Tweens have to be ages 10-13 to use the space
3. Spaces were specifically designed for both extroverts and introverts
4. There is a kitchen!
The article has several quotes that embody this philosophy of this library space:
Hoflin “was very clear” about why the library needed a kitchen, she recalls. “The library should be a place where you could smell fresh cinnamon buns when you are reading.” The right smells, tactile features, and visual elements would contribute to a “library that should evoke all kinds of emotions.” In a kitchen, Stenberg adds, people “sit down and talk together and eat and share stories.”
At its heart, TioTretton is “very organic,” notes Stenberg. “One of the biggest things is the philosophy that this is a work in progress that will never be finished. We should always try new things. TioTretton should shape and reshape itself.”
Take a look at the entire article and be inspired!