Librarians: Friday’s Question

On page 159, Professor Lankes describes how a public library reached out to the local (Syracuse) community by interacting with a children’s hospital. In this way, they were reaching out to their community in a unique way. How does collections development affect community, but also how does the community affect collections development?

 This concept also ties in with the innovative ideas occurring in circulation. As librarians start thinking about the community and how to develop their collections, they need to figure what materials can be lent out. The idea that “…[y]ou can “check out” a lawyer, accountant, or librarian for… one-on-one attention…” (from page 169) is fantastic. How does this change in the communities around us? This is not a rhetorical question. Think about the community that you live in and other communities you have been a part of (your hometown, where you went to college, etc.). How would you like this unique process to affect libraries and the communities they serve and how they grow?

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  • Anonymous

    The idea of the community shaping the collection is really exciting for me.  This is the kind of thing I would love to focus my energy on- discovering who my community is, and what it is they need from their library.  The obvious example is within book selection- obviously the books I buy will be different if I’m living by an elderly community vs if I am located right by a highschool.  But of course it goes farther than just books.  I’m excited to find out what communities actually need:  Tech services?  fascilities for gaming?  Craft nights?  Movie nights? Resume building services?  Sessions about college?  The list could go on and on.

    • Darren J. Glenn

       It [the list] really can.  This is a great example of the conversation dimension that Lankes is always yammering on (WADR) about.  We ourselves, as a library–as librarians–are shaped by that conversation of the community.  The ideal is that more libraries end up focusing more attention on discovering who their community is (and isn’t).  How else will we effectively improve society.

  • Jan

    The concept seems interesting, but does not seem practical.  How do you check out specialist like a lawyer?  Unless community has strong sense of volunteerism, who will pay the bills for all those experts?   The problem is not with the idea, but with the society, so how do we approach making necessary changes within society and so this type of library you speaking of becomes possible?  Or is your proposal then to make each librarian also specialist by having them acquire another degree?  If so how do you think that will become possible and viable?

    • Rjlee89

      Very good points! But isn’t this part of collections development? It is up to the librarian and library policies to determine what is needed. Yes we can house every specialty, but if you’re at a law school for example, wouldn’t it be valuable to be able to check out a lawyer? 

      • Jan

        As valuable as it is, and I agree it would be valuable, I am thinking of the budged issues.  As much as we want we do, we do not have enough money to operate and fund everything we want within the libraries.  Dependance on the charity of professionals is great, but can not be dependent on.  Conversations can occur in many different ways throughout the libraries, but would checkout ‘expert’ system help with that goal?  And how dependable would it be?  Creating forum where experts and people in general can come to have a conversation is great, but this concept of check out seems more like professional one on one service then large scope conversation on any given topic.

    • Erin Lee

      The scheme I have heard of was lending out ‘specialists’ but it was not for their expertise to be used but it was to facilitate conversation among members of the society.  There are other services, which supply legal advice etc. and the system I have heard of was not for professional aid but was to enable members of the community to learn from each other – to find out what their job is like etc.  This fosters community spirit and conversation rather than merely being an opportunity to get free advice.