Last month, I read 'Another Thing I Didn’t Learn in Grad Schools: It's All About Relationships' on this blog. I was not only impressed, but couldn't agree more. It seems to me one more fitting piece in a series of wonderful and inspiring blog posts from the past few weeks and months. 'As we speak about relationships we speak about emotions as well', I wrote to Jessica, and she asked me to write a blog post about it. I wasn’t sure at first, but I decided to give it a try. And here we are.
Times are changing, no doubt about that. But there is also a changing change already started. Thanks to social media it's easy to follow this phenomenon all around the globe. It happens quite fast, actually, and it isn't easily to describe. I found one sort of street art on notesofberlin.com, a graffiti on a bench, and I couldn't explain this new social movement any better:
"You can't find Empathy at an Appstore"
A summary of changing minds, changing emotions, and changing needs, given in a one sentence philosophy. A very powerful statement, too.
People are creating, people start building their own People's Libraries, responding to social-economic changes, cut downs, closure of small, local libraries. The real innovation is taking place right there, in self organized, spontaneous, ardent, and mostly volunteer based projects. From my point of view libraries have to reconnect with their basic issues, with their communities, with innovative projects outside, with life outside, supporting the spirit and the force from inside the community, without boundaries, without selections.
Let's take time to listen and to communicate, to share knowledge and skills, to co-create and to find a cooperatively way of working together. The shortest distance between two people is a story. We've gone a long way on the technical highway, an endless highway without any speed limit, but in some ways we’ve raised human isolation to perfection. We’ve made it possible to be connected to the world without being connected to anyone in real life. There are studies forecasting isolation as one of the most dangerous trends of the era.
Despite that, am I against technical progress? No, absolutely not! A library is the place for makerspaces, for fablabs, for getting in contact and learning everything about the latest tools. I’m very much for technology, but it's also essential to create a place of respect, kindness, helpfulness, trust and reliance. A place where it's enough to be just the person you are. A place that feels just fine. I'm not saying 'back to the good old days', what I try to say is: Back to humanity, back to a real social way of life.
That is what I'm dreaming of, talking about the future of libraries. But will it work? I don't know. But I'm convinced that it's more than worth trying.
Fabiola Gies is working as a librarian at a mobile library in Zeeland, the Netherlands. The bus delivers, besides books, various services (including post office and cash point) to rural areas where most of the facilities have vanished. For further information: www.zeeuwsebibliotheek.nl #biblioservicebus (She also tweets, almost exclusively in Dutch, @fabjerennt.)