Topics 5 and 6 have been meaty and provocative, asking me to really define what I think a library does, how far its services extend and how best to offer them. The message that keeps popping up for me is that the focus must remain on the users and their needs. I remember in ETL401 being reminded that it is not “our” library, it is the users’ library, and as I had been nurturing a little fantasy about getting “my own” library one day, I had to take stock. I’m a community minded person by nature so I don’t think I would fall into the trap of making the library how I want it, regardless of the school community and its needs, but it is good to be reminded. Complacency is always a danger.
In Topic 5, Tyckason’s (2003) article reported how for library users, the personal interaction with a librarian was more memorable than the actual information being sought. I agree wholeheartedly that we must not dehumanise the library service too much. As a public library user and a teacher librarian, I know that libraries are spaces that provide more than just books and information. They provide community for lonely people, meeting spots for friends, refuge for outcasts, free entertainment for families and warm comfort on cold days. Our local library has been closed for renovation all year and as a stay-at-home mum, I am sorely missing it, not just because we can’t change our books as frequently as we would like, but because our visits there are a sanity-saving part of our weekly routine.
At our nearest toy library (which is part of a regular library), they just opened up their brand spanking new circulation desk, with two self-service machines for checking your own books out. This is a great idea, but the librarian was so keen to show me how it worked, she overlooked the fact that I was juggling my baby, the baby bag, eight books, a DVD and two toys as well as keeping an eye on my four year old. On that day, I really just wanted a nice librarian to check my stuff out for me. She was so focused on the new technology she ignored the needs of the user.