Here’s the cool thing about libraries, they are always evolving. If your library has not changed in the last decade, they
must be waiting for someone on staff or the library board to RIP, seriously. We’ve already seen the amazing ideas that libraries like DOK in Amsterdam are creating, the atmosphere is not only inspirational but it’s contagious! You’re probably wondering contagious, yuck!?! But I mean contagious as in more and more people are beginning to understand the new concept of libraries and in some way they would like to replicate at least a part of what DOK represents.
So as we continue our quest of hyperlinked models, we are introduced to this really cool idea here in the states called Anythink Libraries and their clever design and upgrade of the traditional library. Times change, we all understand that, and to stay relevant your purpose and idea need to adapt and transform (“Libraries Transform”…anybody?). First of all their Manifesto is spectacular! I saw this once on Pinterest and had no idea it was some libraries version of a mission, because mission statements can seem blah, no offense to those that have contributed ideas to libraries, but in reality I would much rather be known as a Wizard, a Genius, and/or an Explorer. The community reaction to the Anythink Library has been nothing but great reviews. Patrons are excited about the revitalized vision of the library, as they should be. I think if you present a new idea and concept from the beginning, there is more acceptance from traditional library users. However, libraries are the new community centers, the hub, and the more programming, spaces and ideas that are offered, the more the community will engage.
Another important part of Anythink Libraries is their staff, and the integral part they play within the community and the library industry. I can’t stress enough how important it is for a library system to support their staff and empower them. After reading through their Strategic Plan, here are some of my favorite elements regarding staff:
- Time is given to staff to explore creative ideas and endeavors.
- Anythink provides training for essential staff skills.
- Optimistic attitude-we believe anything is possible.
I always get excited when I read through all of these innovative ideas, and I want to carry this over to my own library system! While not on the level of Anythink Libraries, my library system has a few programs, spaces, and “outside-the-box” ideas. Our ESL program is a huge success that started out small and has grown to classes at all of the branches. In fact it was such a success that we even offered an 8 week Citizenship class to prepare people for their citizenship interview and test. Another program we offer at our branch that is a shared-use facility with the local high school is called “Sultans of Rock”, which is a drop-in jam session for teens and they really enjoy and appreciate that they have an opportunity to play and listen to music every week. Not to hop on the bandwagon, but we are just about to launch our first Books2Go, which is basically a free micro-library that will be featured at parks all around the city. The first micro-library will be at one of our largest dog parks in the shape of a doghouse filled with books to share! While each of our branches are unique to their community within the city it’s nice to know that there are quite a few opportunities and creative ideas that we are taking advantage of. Are we done with innovation, no, never! What I would encourage from my system is not only staff appreciation but more importantly listening and enacting some of the ideas and suggestions from not only librarians and admin, but from the rest of the staff as well. This will empower them which will lead to happy staff and happier patrons.