I have a lot of enthusiasm for the vision of library-as-community gathering place, and I really love Seth's vision of the library. As a voracious lifelong learner, I love this image of the library as "The vibe of the best Brooklyn coffee shop combined with a passionate raconteur of information." Frankly, that's the kind of place I've been looking for all my life - the kind of place I've always wanted the library to be.
We should be a haven of geek-chic, a convergence of intelligence, a world where "knowledge is power" is a proven truth, not a catchy bookmark.
So where do we start? Sadly (for me), I don't think a catchy bookmark will do the trick. As much as I'd love to single-handedly save the library by creating great publications, I think we'll need a much wider approach. Here are my suggestions for the small steps we can take to start down this road.
- Put the staff forward as hubs of book conversation. Encourage us to show our love, our enthusiasm, and our personality in our conversations about books.
- Staff suggestions should be well-displayed; don't just throw them on a shelf or cart. Take a lesson from bookstores and do some MERCHANDISING.
- Don't give up on Book Discussion Groups. This oft-maligned but perennial library standard is based on a good solid premise: that avid readers like intelligent discussion about books.
- If you have any kind of Small-Business Center (our library does), offer some opportunities for networking. Try doing some workshops aimed at business owners, or having a business-to-business bulletin board, or a meet-and-greet. We should be positioning ourselves as the hub of a network of RELEVANT information.
- Connect with existing groups that use the library already. For example: author groups. homeschooling groups, chess or bridge clubs, and artist's associations already use the library as a meeting place. Think about how you can create a symbiotic relationship that will benefit the group and the library.
(Thanks to "The 'M' Word" for directing me to the Seth Godin piece.)