The most important place in town

I’m missing public libraries enormously. There were a lot of sensible reasons for moving back to a school library job, but they faded before the end of the first week. I miss my community. I miss working with other staff. I miss my networks, who haven’t really gone far, but I’m just not part of the crowd any more.

One of the those excellent reasons was to find out whether school libraries were my ‘calling’ and I’d just had some negative experiences, or if public libraries were really my niche.

It is well and truly the latter.

One of the things I used to do while I was a student teacher was gaze longingly out of the window (while I should have been planning to teach Shakespeare to Year 10) at parents, cars driving past, bin men, and longing to be “out there” in the real world.

15 years later I find myself once again staring out the window.

The other realisation I have made is that my skills, my abilities, my ‘talents’ if you will, are best suited for public libraries. There are reasons my most recent job (in a public library) was the longest I’ve ever stayed in one workplace. I LIKED IT. I WAS GOOD AT IT.

So, here I am in the 2nd month of a 2 year contract, wondering what an earth I have gotten myself into!

Community Centered: 23 Reasons Why Your Library Is the Most Important Place in Town

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‘In a way, the quakes have pushed us to develop our community role’: Interview with Carolyn Robertson of Christchurch City Libraries, New Zealand

Love this –> ‘We want to change the way people see libraries and use them. We understand the word “library” in the widest possible sense. In the 21st century, the library has taken on the role of the village square.’ Carolyn Robertson, Christchurch City Libraries (borrowing for Prezi on libraries and citizenship, thanks Matt!)

matt finch / mechanical dolphin

There can be no greater challenge to a library service than a natural disaster – except perhaps that same disaster repeated.

That’s exactly what faced Carolyn Robertson and her team at Christchurch Libraries when, in September 2010 and again in February and June of this year, earthquakes struck their home city on New Zealand’s South Island.

Yet, as Carolyn explained to me recently, ‘In a way, the quakes have pushed us to further develop our community role. They’ve actually strengthened Christchurch Libraries’ vision of equity of access.’

Carolyn Robertson of Christchurch City Libraries, New Zealand

I visited Carolyn, Christchurch City Libraries and Information Manager, at the city’s South Library earlier this year. It’s one of the liveliest and most modern I’ve seen in on literacy adventures throughout Northern Europe, the USA, and Australia as well as New Zealand.

The community has clearly taken to this bright, multipurpose space which includes a great café, children’s play area and an…

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