Monday, June 19, 2006

Hope and Reconciliation

The biblioblogosphere is all abuzz about Long Overdue: A Fresh Look at Public and Leadership Attitudes About Libraries in the 21st Century. I love the perspective it offers us on our own goals and on our diverse customers. Lots of thoughts race thru my mind when I look at some of these. I love that "Having enough computers..." Finally surpasses "Adequate parking." (not that I don't care about parking...) I love that current materials, self service and comfort are still high priorities.

Because of a lot of what I heard and dealt with in the last year, I most wonder how to reconcile some of these priorities that the public expresses.

Am I taking them too literally or could:

* Providing a safe and engaging space for teens;
* Expanding access to the Internet and other uses of technology;

be somewhat contradictory?

How many parents assume we are "safe places" for their children to be left alone in as soon as they reach a certain age. (How many of them got this impression by reading a "Safe Space" sign posted at each one of our doors?)

How many parents assume their children can't get on the internet, or can't get on MySpace, or if they are allowed to browse the web, would only do so under a very aggressive filter? How many of them understand that we sometimes don't even know their age when we serve them?

How can we reconcile some of these expectations with all of our realities?
Have you seen the Zurich commercial on TV that asked: "What if your business plan changes every 4 hours?" I really think of our libraries like that, as having our business plan change every couple hours, toddlers & mothers at 9 AM, PC users at 10AM (in droves), bookclub readers at 2PM, homework high school students at 4PM, music lovers in at 7 PM for a concert... And tomorrow, a "Band of Brothers" showing with actual WWII participants and later in the conference room, a "DAR" meeting...

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1 comment:

Mickey Coalwell said...

It's the word "safe" that seems to be at the root of your concern. For me, "safe" in the library does not mean "protected" except in the most rudimentary sense -- protected from the elements, say. As a parent of a teen, I don't look to the library to "protect" my child from facts and ideas, in books or on the internet. That's my job, not the library's. Too many parents -- and librarians -- think otherwise. Look here for Josh Neff's cogent explanation of misapplied in loco parentis. Libraries can't be everthing to everybody. I'm OK with that.