Reflection #4 – Anythink Groupie

Going through the course materials and listening to the Stacie Ledden interview over the past couple weeks has been really transformative. 

Before the interview, I was exploring their policies, strategic vision, and events to get a good feel of their mission and how they were working within their community. While I was exploring the website I found this page called Investing in Anythink’s Future….this is where I dove into the Anythink rabbit hole. 

We have talked in previous modules about the importance of transparency. The Anythink community is getting ready, as we speak, to vote on a ballot measure to increase funding for the Anythink libraries. The library put together this page that clearly outlines the ballot proposal, tax implications, the district needs and challenges, and their vision for the future. But they take it a step further and talk about how the library is funded, they provide historical context, projected growth, and comparable funding from surrounding communities. 

BUT THEY KEEP GOING. 

They expand on their current efficiencies, detail how they want to spend the money and where it will be invested. The amount of context, information, and transparency here is beyond anything I have seen for almost any government project in my own community. In the interview with Stacie, she mentioned that Colorado has a big libertarian population who requires extreme transparency. She stressed that you have to make your case and explicitly state where the money is going and how it will be spent so they can make an informed decision. I definitely think this model would be beneficial in my own community. 

While I was exploring this page, I stumbled upon a document call Catalyst for Innovation: The Anythink Visioning Sessions This was one of the most inspiring library visions I have read in a while. Flipping through the pages, I could truly get a sense of the community involvement to help design a 21st century library. Moving forward with this vision would be a library build for the people. This is definitely a model for listening to the community the library is serving. 

The more I learn about Anythink, the more I really love their transformative mission and approach to community centered librarianship. If you haven’t had a chance, I highly recommend watching the Stacie Ledden interview.

5 comments
  1. HI Britten, I wrote about Anythink as well. I was really inspired by their out-of-the-box thinking and the ways they are revolutionizing the concept of “library”. From their core competencies for staff and their job titles, to their WordThink Grid replacing Dewey, the fireplaces in each branch, and their programs and services, Anythink is like a breath of fresh air.

    1. I thought it was awesome that they were the first library to move away from Dewey. I have yet to visit a library that has made the switch with their entire collection. I helped do the pre-work for my local public library to experiment with “neighborhoods” in the children’s section and a couple of years later, they have now categorized all the picture books by topic. They are also currently experimenting with a similar “neighborhood” model in the adult non-fiction, but have not made the leap to get rid of Dewey. I will be excited to see if they eventually go all in.

      I would love to hear how the transition in job descriptions and new core competencies went over with staff. They are beautiful in theory, but I wonder if there were some bumps in the road as they transitioned to their Anythink brand. Do you think any of these competencies would be difficult in a “traditional library” setting?

      1. I wouldn’t be surprised if Anythink encountered “bumps in the road” as they transitioned to their new brand. That would have been a great question to ask Stacie: how did they manage change as they shifted to the Anythink model? I do believe the Anythink core competencies for staff could work well in more “traditional” libraries, but how well they worked might vary on a case by case basis. What are your thoughts about this?

  2. @britten So much inspiration to take away! You captured it well.

    The first library to drop Dewey predates Anythink – it was a branch at Maricopa County in Arizona. I remember it well because I knew one off the librarians there at the time and there was a bit of pushback – not from the public but from some librarians! Anythink adopted a slightly different version of the BISAC scheme.

    https://bisg.org/page/BISACEdition

    https://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/14/us/14dewey.html

  3. Hi Britten,

    I had never heard of Stacie Ledden prior to this course and thanks to your post, I was introduced to the Catalyst for Innovation: The Anythink Visioning Sessions. Like you, I was blown away by what I was seeing and reading – the community-minded library model outlined in the document gave their community a weighted voice in how they use library resources and spaces. Giving users the freedom to imagine a space that is aligned with their information wants and needs is incredibly powerful. What an incredible way to make the experience more engaging, meaningful, and FUN!

    Thank you!

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