Posted by: | October 28, 2019

Reflection post #4 – New Models

An Anythink Library Reading Room

I fell in love with the Anythink Libraries. They are visionary, revolutionary, and an inspiration. There are many wonderful qualities that I could mention about Anythink, but I put together a short list of some of what I find most refreshing about their libraries, in no particular order:

  1. The Staff Manifesto in which staff are described as part wizard, part genius, and part explorer.
  2. The set of core competencies describing what Anythink is looking for in staff members, and elaborating what it takes to be on staff with the library.
  3. The non-traditional job titles: Wrangler, Concierge and Guide.
  4. Their mission statement: “We open doors for curious minds.”   
  5. The fireplaces. Anythink libraries have fireplaces at all their branches to create coziness or the indefinable hygge.
  6. The non-traditional shelving system. Anythink libraries shelve their materials according to a WordThink Grid instead of Dewey Decimal.

In essence, Anythink is fun, creative, edgy, and out of the box when it comes to being a library. Frankly, I didn’t think I could find more to admire about them – and then I listened to the Stacie Ledden interview. Learning about the libraries’ struggles with funding and support; about how they reinvented themselves by starting with their “why”, was both inspiring and energizing.

In his Library Journal interview, Eric Klinenberg makes the argument that libraries should not be seen as luxuries, but as indispensable to our social infrastructure. He goes on to note that the public remains largely unaware of how much funding libraries truly need in order to live up to the demands placed upon them. This tension between insufficient funding and the mission of the library is hardly new. Even now Anythink Libraries are facing a vote on a new ballot measure in November that seeks to get more capital for collections, services, and programs. What is exciting about Anythink Libraries is how visionary they remain despite the challenges. And, the Libraries are not resting on their laurels either. Library staff continue to engage with the community to assess needs, and to learn what is most important to their constituents.

Andrew Carnegie once described libraries as palaces for the people where folks can gather, socialize, and improve their lives (Peet, 2018). Anythink Libraries truly are palaces for the people, in every sense of the word.

References

Peet, L. (2018, October 3). Eric Klinenberg: Libraries and social infrastructure.


Stephens, M. (2019). Stacie Ledden chat

Group3Planners (2009). Library fireplace reading [photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/group3planners/5136613365/in/photolist-9urLf3-8PUw4i-8QvkuY-LHhhug-9urLiJ-8QCmJb-8QzfRF-8PUrvk-8Qw9cS-8QvZkm-9urLto-8QCmKs-8QvZmW-8QCmGw-8QvZmj-8QCmHY-8QvZoq-8PXyqE-9DBikr-9uoJTF-8PXCZ5-8QsTsP-8PXoJQ-8PUucp-8QvZnq-9DEbfo-8Qvknw-ny2ASk-9DEbuW-ny1MPd-nQdnwZ-nShZm6-Mxi94g-ny22LJ


Responses

  1. Hi Christine,

    Thank you so much for sharing the photo of the Anythink Library Reading Room! It looks so cozy and comfortable 🙂 Most of all, it looks welcoming and I really value that about libraries. I also love how creative the book shelves look. I’m a fan of their mission statement of opening doors for curious minds. I feel that that would work wonderfully with participatory libraries.

    I think what Eric Klinenberg stated about the public awareness on library funding is incredibly true. I felt this now more than ever after we displayed these huge boards with photos and a remodeling plan (with a commentary form for the public). It stated it would cost a few million dollars or so and I remember hearing the patrons sort of disgruntled comment on not looking forward to tax season. My mother was also one of them, stating that we should move away from the district to somewhere that was cheaper.

    Although the amount shocked the patrons, I’m pleased knowing my home library chose to be transparent about the costs because it really is important to be as truthful as you can with your patrons to further that trust.

    In addition, I am hopeful that the AnyThink libraries do well. It’s great to see how visionary they are indeed. I’m interested to see the results of the ballot. Only November will tell!

    Tiffany

    • Hi Tiffany, thank you for your comments. I’m excited to hear about your library’s plans to remodel and hope they are hugely successful. I’m glad your home library has been so transparent about the plans because I think it’s better in the long run. What other measures has your library taken to educate patrons about the proposed changes and how they (the patrons) stand to benefit?

  2. Love that pic! I had not seen that fireplace before.

    At R Squared in Colorado in 2012, one of our final group activities was to read the staff manifesto aloud. It was a very emotional experience.


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