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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Library Pep Talk Time

Okay, it's go time for most of us.  We are only days away from launching our Summer Reading Programs. While most industries take it down a notch during the summer, the public library, and especially those of us who work with leisure readers, are turning it all up about 10 notches.

Yes, summer is both a blessing and a curse for the public library worker.  We are all so excited to take the influx of patrons, to promote the fun side of reading for all ages, to run exciting programs, and hand out prizes just for reading a book! We are excited to see them all come through our doors eager to read and happy to have the time to do it.

But, as someone who has done this 15x before, I also know that it is tiring. We are running a summer long marathon at a sprinters pace.  We feel the pressure of trying to win over patrons, especially those of use who work with voting age patrons. Summer is often the only time we have to show these users how great we are and remind them how much they need us. Without their support, we cannot exist.

So today, I'd like to take a moment and pass on a pep talk in the form of an article that one of my good friends (and huge library supporter) sent me.  Entitled, "Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google."  It is both a review of Palfrey's new book BiblioTech and an essay on the culturally critical role libraries play in our society.

The article begins with this opening paragraph:
"If you were airdropped, blindfolded, into a strange town and given nothing but a bus ticket, to where would you ride that bus? You might be surprised to learn that there’s only one good answer, and that’s the public library. The library is the public living room, and if ever you are stripped of everything private—money, friends and orientation—you can go there and become a human again."
The article's author, Amien Essif, really looks into more than what Palfrey says in his book about libraries.  This is an article by someone who understands what we do.  In regards to RA work specifically later in the article, he writes:
"No, the dilemma of disappearing libraries is not just about efficiency, it’s also about values. Librarians recommend books because they are part of a community and want to start a discussion among the people they see around them—to solve the world’s problems, but also just to have a conversation, because people want to be near each other. The faster technology improves and surpasses human capability, the more obvious it becomes that being human is not merely about being capable, it’s about relating to other humans."
Please remember these words as you get busy this summer.  As you struggle to keep up the high level of service and programming that your summer reading program requires, as you watch your friends and family spend less time hustling and more time relaxing this summer, remember, what we do is important-- now more than ever.

Now let's get out there and be our community's book expert. Let's start conversations about books. Let's remind people why they both love reading and need us!

Go team public library. SRP here we come!

Click here to read the full article.

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