Bear with me as I tell a bit of a story before launching into the main gist of today's post.
The library's roof no longer leaks (rumor is that is has leaked, off and on, since the building opened in 1995) which is a cause for much rejoicing
. It is also a cause to repaint, now that we know (hope?) there won't be anymore water damage. I adore this building. It's one of my favorite things about working for this college. So, walking around my library and seeing the painters' progress, makes me smile. See what I mean about the beauty of this place:
|These spiral stairs go from the basement to the first floor.|
|Old, old, old government documents in nice, neat rows.|
|My favorite study room.|
That brings me to my main topic: "the library as place". I keep coming back to that concept, again and again, lately. The comfy chairs, the study nooks, the art... all of it makes this a welcoming space. Further, "library as place" is the reason I'm not worried about competing with Google. This library is a community center and a destination on campus. Sure, as a college library, we are here to help with research and to provide access to information, but we're so much more. How can Google ever compete with us? Google's not even a place.
What do you think? Why do the naysayers who keep predicting the Death Of Libraries never consider the library-as-place aspect?
Update: I just got around to reading this Grant McCracken, HBR Blog Network piece, "Innovating the Library Way
," for which I saved the link a little over a month ago. Turns out this HBR writer agrees with little ol' me. Nice.
I don't know why this usually escapes the attention of the naysayers, but I definitely agree. I just recently learned about the concept of psychogeography, which makes a lot of sense to me a someone vaguely obsessed with concepts of place, and I think libraries are perfect candidates for psychogeographical discussion.ReplyDelete
Perhaps people who discount or ignore the importance of place do so because it relies somewhat on emotion? The sense of a place: I feel (x) when I am here. Kind of like how the tactile arguments against e-books are often considered frivolous. But I think there's a lot to be said for memory and physical experiences of places
We still need to do more to attract people, but figuring out how to key into the emotional response will definitely help.Delete
As someone who gets that "Ahhhh" feeling when I step into a library,place is definitely important. Just like relaxing in that one quiet space we've created in our home or sitting down at our favorite restaurant instead of ordering take-out,it's all about the experience. When I step into a library I'm either instantly in study mode or lost in the latest EJD book and Google can't replace that feeling.ReplyDelete
Libraries are magical places.Delete
I agree with post but fire codes too strict. Library places much better with firepits. Burning fire make big warmth--bring much patrons. Excite patrons! Good plan.ReplyDelete
Last thing I want to say: Google scares me.
Okay, I should have been more explicit. Google scares me personally, but not so much professionally.Delete
I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to take the "bah humbug" stance here. If place really mattered, Borders would still be in business, along with hundreds of independent bookstores. If place mattered, there would still be record stores. Come on...there is no place on earth better than a record store! But they're almost all gone. The key for the "library as place" to remain relevant and not go the way of the record store is to make sure the services they provide in that place are needed and wanted. It means adapting and changing to fit the needs of our communities. Generally speaking, I think libraries do a great job of that, so I'm not worried about "library as place" going the way of the record store, but always remember that if a service can be provided in a more convenient, cheaper, or faster way, than the public will almost always use the convenient, cheaper, or faster way.ReplyDelete
I completely agree. The ideas I presented above are definitely a starting place. We have to pay attention to what our communities want, and convenience and speed are definitely part of it.Delete
Thanks for bringing this up.
Love the colors of your library! And as librarians, we have to advertise the power of "Google is not even a place" - but I think it is a sellable concept. Nicely articulated!ReplyDelete
I think the importance of the library as place is especially true for colleges and universities. I mean, where else will stress-crazed students hold their midnight dance parties during finals week? I think it's less so when we're talking about public libraries, because the public would rather do a quick Google search or buy/download a book from Amazon (though of course there are people for whom that is not an option--thus the heretofore survival of libraries).ReplyDelete