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Monday, February 27, 2017

RA for All: Call to Action-- Go Visit a Library You Have Never Been To

Today I have a very simple Call to Action, but it is one that not enough of us do.

Go out of your way to visit a library you have never been to. Stop in and walk around like a patron. Look at how the books are organized, shelved, and displayed. Move through the space as a patron would. Use the signage, wander, browse.

But Becky that just sounds like fun.

It is fun. It is a good way to recharge your batteries, but it also an imperative continuing education tool.

I never realized how vital it is to look at the different ways a library could be until I got the chance to come visit libraries all over the country. I cannot exaggerate how much more I know now because of what I have seen. There are some great things happening at libraries, from huge to tiny, everywhere. I have seen small display ideas at one library that were awesome and super easy, yet I never would have thought of doing things that way. But I have also seen huge restructuring projects that reimagine library service on a grander scale. While these are less easy to transfer to any library, they have got me to rethink my assumptions of the way things "have" to be and have opened me up to make appropriate changes at my libraries.

But you don't have to go 1,000 miles away to get new ideas or even to shake yourself out of the complacency of "but this is how we have always done it." You don't even have to go to the hot, trendy library that is blowing up the library mold. Next time you are out and about just find the closest public library which you have never been to yourself, and pop in.

You will be surprised as to how much you learn. Not only do you get good ideas from others, but seeing how another library does something you also do will make you think about the choices you have made at your library. Many times you won't change what you are doing, and that is fine. But forcing yourself to think about the whys behind what you do is vital. Doing things the same way just because you have always done them that way and they seem to be working does not make for good service.

I can honest tell you that I have learned something from every single library I have visited. Each visit has made me better at what I do.

So get out there sometime soon and see a library with fresh eyes. See what they are doing without any knowledge as to their whys. Just look at it as a patron sees it. Then go back to your library and use the filter of that experience to give your own services and collections a fresh once over.

For more Call to Action posts, visit the archive here.

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