I am lucky to be writing this post after listening to director Sue Considine’s talk about her experiences at the Fayetteville Free Library. She has been instrumental in transforming the library from a small, dysfunctional cottage-type library to a bustling anchor of the community. The library has extensive programming that is tailored around the needs of the community, including the “fab lab”, one of the first (the first?) makerspaces to be located within a library. I was hoping to get the chance to visit the FFL during my time in Syracuse, but the time just went. Next time!
Now obviously Sue didn’t do all this on her own. I assume she pitched in many hours and elbow grease, and she facilitated the transformation process. She got the community involved, invested, and alerted the members to wishes and needs they didn’t even realize they had. She also knew when to delagate or let community members and partners take ownership over projects that they felt passionate about. One example of this is the development of the Fab Lab, which was spearheaded by ischool grad Lauren Britton.
I am not saying that every library should try to be FFL. In some areas slumlords vote no on tax increases, or like my classmate Angela, some have a tax burden that is already unsustainable. But the librarian can always inspire the community to pitch in to do what they can to make the libary a place that improves the lives of all. Not every library needs or can afford a 3-D printer, or makerspace, or new building. However, every library can try new things. Communities change, their needs change, and the library should reflect those changes. The librarian should be nimble in addressing community needs. Providing access to materials and other members of the community, creating an inspiring enviroment, and movivating community members to participate: these are the ways that the librarian facilitates knowledge creation.
For my gateway class at Syracuse University I was assigned to read and blog about my professor David Lankes’ most recent book, The Atlas of New Librarianship.