If I ever get to interview people who want a job at the library I will hopefully work for then, I think one of the questions I’d ask would be: “Do you have a dream library?” Then I’d watch the candidate, I’d listen to what they say and how they say it. Do their eyes sparkle? What’s going on in their dream library? Does it involve humans or does it involve things?
Of course, budget constraints. Of course, personnel questions. Of course, e-books and all that. Of course.
But it’s a dream library. It’s not real. It serves to feed the soul of the librarian, because maybe some parts of it can be realized. Those can be small parts – displays, for example – or large parts, when, for example, a 3-D printer is purchased with the intention of offering a maker space or when a new library is built.
My dream library has a large plaza in front of it, so everybody can sit outside in the summer. It has areas for children and for teens. It has many rooms that can be used for making things, practicing things, for meetings, greetings, parties, what have you. It has an auditorium for lectures, movies, classes. It has a café where you can bring your own food and drinks. In that café there is a regular breakfast table, lunch table and dinner table for people who don’t want to eat alone. Everybody brings something to it.
My dream library has a large comic library. It has regular dress-up days, where people in costume get prizes (free dvd rental … or by then, possibly, free book rental). It has friendly service and long opening hours and it’s open on weekends and holidays. Ideally, it has a library cat, but I feel that could be very stressful for said cat, so … well, it’s my dream library. It has 10 library cats.
My dream library is open to everybody and actively works with the community to lend support to those who need it. That means social workers, nurses, showers. It might probably be best for it to have a kindergarten attached. Or at least it will have staff on hand to offer babysitting if parents just want to browse, work, relax for a few hours. Yes, that will cost money, but it will be offered. It’s my dream library.
In my dream library, you can borrow items. Tools you don’t use very often, baking forms, electronic gadgets, like heartrate monitors, water and soil testing kits, e-readers, mobile devices, plant seeds, glasses, art (from the community), musical instruments, knitting needles and crochet hooks, huge pots and pans, camping gear, extra chairs. In my dream library, you can borrow services – fixing things, gardening, babysitting, looking after elderly people, painting, moving things. The fees for services are other services. Or food. Or clothes. Or money.
My dream library is in a community that has community gardens, maybe even community fields. The plaza in front of it becomes a market place, where people trade their vegetables, fruit, and flowers. At the library you can take classes to learn how to preserve the excess vegetables and fruit, so the trading can go on even in winter. Once you know the basics, you can join the canning group that meets twice a month, because cooking together is more fun. On Saturday afternoons and evenings, the plaza becomes a different market, as people bring their crafts or things they no longer want to trade or sell, and people from the community perform the things they practiced together in groups or alone.
You can take a class for almost anything, as long as there is a teacher. The teacher doesn’t have to be there in person, after all, the internet is vast. And there is a group for almost anything, as long as there are interested people. Personally, I attend the knitting group, the choir and the folk group, the anime club and the comic society. Sometimes I’ll attend the gaming night. And I’m a member of the group that reads books out loud, so anyone can listen. We record the reading sessions, you can livestream them and later download them as a podcast from the library webpage.
Did I talk about the quiet room? My dream library has two rooms that get quiet at a certain time of the day, one for adults and one for kids. They can come there to rest, even nap, for an hour or two. Maybe there’s some Bach and other quiet music, louder than background music. Yes, there’s a supervisor.
My dream library has a garden, too. After all, I like flowers. All the trees in it carry fruit or nuts. And there are guest rooms, for librarians, scientists, writers, and other people who want or need to spend some time in the library or in the community.
Finally, my dream library records things. It records the life stories of the library patrons. It records their pictures, their movies, their email exchanges, their chat logs, their twitter feeds, if they want. It records the things produced at the library, produced in the community, and the things going on in the community.
And of course my dream library has a huge budget ;D
In the future I’ll sometimes talk about activities, events, services or media I’d like to offer at my dream library. Have you thought about your dream library lately?