It’s been some time since my last post, due to the holidays and the lovely response that the Maine library community has given to our technology petting zoo (YAY!). It’s gratifying to know that something we’re doing here at MSL is having an immediate impact on library staff and services. The next couple months are already filling up, and there are some interesting things to come in the next few months that I’ll be ever-so-happy to talk about.
But for the moment, let me make a statement that is half-prediction, half-hope: this year is going to be the year for our libraries to learn the intrinsic value of volume, in the form of speaking up and conveying the worth of libraries to your community and the world.
I say this after having observed it in action. At the Southwest Harbor Public Library, as mentioned in my earlier blog post, Kate Pickup-McMullin and Candy Emlen decided to make more of the petting zoo event they were planning, and did so by inviting their state legislators, town manager and board members to the event, along with Linda Lord and their local school librarian. Kate and Candy’s event made local and state news and were picked up by the ALA in Washington D. C. as an examplary way of underscoring the value of their library to their community. Kate and Candy would be the first to say that it didn’t take much effort to bring these people together, but no one doubts the impression that was made during that meeting.
Ellyssa Kroski, director of information technology at the New York Law Institute and speaker on the areas of technology and libraries, created a very insightful slideshow on the future of libraries. The most poignant slides begin at slide 51, where libraries that have “future-proofed” themselves are able to demonstrate their own ROI (return on investment). Most of the slides to follow hammer home the value of “being loud” in your community and letting everyone know how much value your library provides, while always on the lookout for adding value above and beyond what competitors can provide.
I like to think that the lions, laying vigilantly before the New York Public Library, are symbolic of this evolution; this could be the year that the iconic figure of austere silence, pursed lips sealed by a rigidly-vertical finger, will learn to roar.