In the New Models module it was discussed how the physical spaces of libraries and modern approaches to library service can serve the needs of communities. One of these 21st century approaches is opening the door for library spaces to be used in creative and non-traditional ways. One example mentioned was the Anythink Library’ use of fireplaces in their branchest to help create a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere. As explained by Stephens (n.d.) this decision came from a Danish concept called “Hygge.” There isn’t a direct English translation for the word “Hyyge,” but it has to do with a feeling of coziness, comfort, and well-being. If libraries can establish an environment that evokes hygge, it can help patrons feel welcome and part of the community.
A comfortable and welcoming environment also helps libraries establish themselves as effective gathering places. The Tea Tree Gully Library (of South Australia) hosts a program called Up Late: Grown Up Storytime, where they offer wine and rum as stories are read and crafts are made. As another example, we were shown a photo of a public library in Copenhagen that has padding on bookshelves for children to climb up, read, and play on. This part of the lecture made me think of how much variation there is within public libraries as far as the level of comfort and coziness. Some libraries I know have plenty of natural sunlight and comfortable furniture, while others feel cold, rigid and lack sunlight. Public libraries should make people feel happy to be there and all visitors should feel welcome.
Libraries can use their spaces reach in basic human needs in addition to informational and recreational needs. I was impressed to learn about the Capital Area District Libraries community closet, where the public has free access to personal care products. The fact that the products are donated by both staff and patrons exemplifies a participatory service where patrons are involved in carrying out a library program. One of the public library systems I work for holds a program called Food For Fines where at the end of each year patrons can donate canned and non perishable foods and have their library fines waived. The opportunities that public library staff have to serve a wide variety of needs to a wide variety of people is a big part of what draws me to the public library field. It’s exciting that public library staff can take on these social worker-like roles and when community space and creativity are combined, there is so much potential.
Stephens, M. (n.d.). The hyperlinked library: New models. INFO 287. Retrieved from: https: https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=d68f4501-b7e5-4a2e-b927-aad60122498e