Not Your Quiet Library Anymore
I wrote several weeks ago about the bun-haired, glasses-wearing stereotype of librarians and how outdated it is. This time, my focus is on the libraries themselves and the stereotypes there. Stereotypically, libraries are supposed to be quiet, serious places where one goes to study, learn, and become a scholarly erudite! WOAH! Slam on the brakes! That is one stereotype that needs to go and go far away.
I won’t argue that we do provide a quiet respite in which one can study and escape into the worlds of Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, or Father Tim Cavanaugh or that we are a place to learn and grow. In fact, I happily celebrate a library being all of these things. However, we are so much more. Libraries are a sense and place of community. We are a place where people go to make and meet friends, discuss favorite books, complete a knitting or other craft project, play games, or watch movies. All of these things are not generally solitary pursuits. The library has truly become an epicenter for the community it serves.
Walk into the NWCC library on the Senatobia campus on any given day, you might see a group of students playing UNO or a board game (that they checked out of the library) or drinking coffee, students studying together, a group knitting together, faculty and students gathered around the 3-D printer, or groups playing video games (also checked out from the library) or having a book discussion. Instructional activities include speed dating sessions with our electronic resources, scavenger hunts using our iPads, and writing letters to authors studied in reading classes. We offer information and entertainment to anyone who wants to come in—we are a community center as well as a knowledge and information-building center.
Some of the non-instructional activities we have planned include cupcake wars, pumpkin decorating, a holiday tea, a trivia contest, and weekly crafternoons where you can learn to knit or make a duct tape wallet. In addition, we have book clubs for both students and the faculty and community at large. We often hear shouts of laughter, serious debate, and just plain ole good conversation. The librarians do not “Shh” anyone. We may ask you to be a little quieter if others are trying to study, but we NEVER silence you!
So, the point of this blog entry—we are still a place to learn and grow, a place to check out and read books, and a place to find quiet time if you need it. But, we can also be loud, boisterous places where groups can come together to discuss, play, eat, and laugh together. We are a place to connect, with technology and, more importantly, with others who share common interests. The library IS a community. The library is the place where you don’t have to be the most beautiful, the most intelligent, or the most athletic to be able to join—you just have to walk in the door and you are part of us.