One of my favorite examples from class of how libraries are changing, and how we’re staying relevant, was that in the past, you could check out a cookbook from the collection and bring it home with you to read and try some recipes. Now, many libraries will offer cooking classes–right in the library! Of course, you can still check out a cookbook (many, many different cookbooks! They comprise at least half of my checked-out material at any given time). But that’s an example of how librarians are innovating and and striving to serve communities as technology develops, as the Internet continues to change people’s lives and expectations. We all know the cliche of the prim librarian who would simply point you in the direction of the book you ask for, or perhaps reprimand you for talking too loudly. Now, public libraries are instituting new programs like the aforementioned cooking class, health talks, and hosting crafting projects; they’re even adding items to their collections like telescopes, home energy monitors, and art prints for people to experience and take delight in their library in constantly evolving ways.
Something that was emphasized in class, and that resonates deeply with me, is that libraries are learning institutions after people finish their formal education (to paraphrase Dewey). That means that teaching matters. I’ve always pushed back against the idea of being a teacher, maybe because of my experiences in public school; I had several good teachers, but I never wanted that job for myself. However, while an undergraduate, I worked as a peer tutor and discovered that I really enjoyed that kind of learning situation. The methods I was taught were similar to our discussion in class, such as using metacognition and
- narrating what you’re doing while you’re doing it. In fact, we were told to always have the student read their paper out loud, or read it aloud ourselves if they didn’t want to. Because of my good experiences as a tutor, and as a student in library workshops after my education, I feel hopeful and confident that I’ll enjoy an instructional role as a librarian.
Two days after our first class, I attended an inspiring talk given by Josie Parker, the director of the AADL. She embodied so many of the values we talked about in class, and more. One thing she emphasized was a “culture of generosity” that she tries to create in all of the AADL branches. This means perhaps forgiving someone’s late fees if they accidentally lost an item, as well as being welcoming, tolerant, and kind to all people who come into the library. She also talked about the importance of public space in the library and making it look as inviting as possible, pushing back against the idea of libraries as “book warehouses.” I can only hope to be as great of a librarian as Josie is!