Participatory Culture – There’s a Need for That
Whether you work at a public library, school library, or academic library, your users are what matters. If you have no clientele, you have no library. That said, who better to tell you what will make your library better. K.G. Schneider (2006) said, “the user is not broken” and “your system is broken until proven otherwise.” Inviting patron and staff input into your library plans is a no-brainer, whether you are planning a redesign or simply next month’s programming.
Libraries always seem to be on the chopping block when budget crises occur. If your community (neighborhood, school, university) is a partner in your library, you will find greater support when it’s most needed. “Getting them [patrons] to participate, at any level, will go a long way towards gaining their buy-in” (Casey, 2011). Academic libraries are moving more and more books into storage and relying on online journals accessed through databases (Stephens, 2011). To that point, in the eleven courses I have taken so far in this program, I have only used two physical books (other than textbooks) for research so far. Everything else has been online journal articles and websites. I would imagine this to be true for most college students today. The amount of space that can (and eventually will) be freed up in libraries can be redirected toward spaces that accommodate user preferences. At North Carolina State’s Hunt Library, four bookBots (robots) retrieve books from beneath the first floor. The storage space “houses some two million volumes in one-ninth the space of conventional shelving.” The newly redesigned library space focuses on users’ needs from the Rain Garden Reading Lounge to the Game Lab, and was designed in consultation with various stakeholder groups (library staff, faculty, students and community members) (Schwartz, 2013).
The high school I work at is undergoing a $50 million modernization project over the next 5-7 years. The library was originally supposed to be part of the project, but due to the fact that too many other buildings were not earthquake proof, it was eliminated from the plans. Not for lack of effort. We contacted the school board and district library services to no avail. Reading all these great articles about redesigned user spaces makes me, once again, saddened that the library won’t be included.
Casey, M. (2011, October 20). Revisiting participatory service in trying times [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://tametheweb.com/2011/10/20/revisiting-participatory-service-in-trying-times-a-ttw-guest-post-by-michael-casey/
Schneider, K. G. (2006, June 3). The user is not broken: A meme masquerading as a manifesto [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://freerangelibrarian.com/2006/06/03/the-user-is-not-broken-a-meme-masquerading-as-a-manifesto/
Schwartz, M. (2013, September 18). Tomorrow visualized [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/09/buildings/lbd/tomorrow-visualized-library-by-design-fall-2013/
Stephens, M. (2011, April 15). Stuck in the past [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://lj.library journal.com/2011/04/opinion/michael-stephens/stuck-in-the-past-office-hours/