I am very much about making the library feel as inclusionary a place as possible. I feel very strongly that a library can represent all of the best ideals of any society. It can (and should be, in my opinion) a gathering place of the community, a safe place where it can be a haven, and a place of limitless potential, where information is available to everyone, to grow according to their own will and desire, never forced, so something beautiful of personal drive and motivation rest there as well. But it is available for them to do tap into the potential within themselves to become whatever they want. It is a powerfully beautiful thing to me, and that is why I’ve chosen this vocation above higher pay grades and “better” opportunities. Because for me, the best is already right here. Just not perhaps in monetary means.
In reading ALA’s “Future of Library Trends” I saw many things of great promise. Using technology to reach distant patrons was especially encouraging via means of drones, internet access, etc. But there were two particular subjects that stood out to me (beyond the distinct lack of diversity anywhere in any of these sections. This bothered me greatly with the focus on all these great other advances).
The first was for the age demographic of “early adulthood” – from the late teens to thirty years old. I actually happen to fall into this demographic and while I’ve “graduated” from much of the criteria, it did make me think about my own age group and how we interact with the library and how to engage them more. Because unless they have kids, I don’t often see the library being a social place for any of my age peers. It is for homework or pleasure reading, or for someone they care for. All of these are wonderful pursuits, but with the level of technology and connectivity available to us nowadays, I am wondering if we are missing the boat somewhere in a missed opportunity here. Here again is where I would love to see some raw data on makerspaces and who is using them and how. All groups are social creatures, and I know I would love a social environment for myself and my peers. This is making me want to talk with my boss, who is actually heading a committee to try and attract this particular demographic quite badly.
The other subject was the “unplugged” one. Despite my extreme love of the potential of makerspaces and their capability for learning, I crave a place for reflection, too. It became quite a fun and impassioned exchange on my graduate classroom forum where we discussed the powerful need for balance. There should be a place, a separate space, that can be used simply for meditation, reading, and reflection. Because in a world of constant communication, that might be one of the most desired and in-demand commodities simply for the fact that it is so rare. I recently went on a camping trip was was stunned to almost staggering back (yes, literally) at the pure silence that surrounded me. I am craving it so much, even right now, that I would gladly take the hard, rocky ground and campfire smell and lack of running water or latrines to hear that kind of silence again. As I type I can hear the quiet, high-pitched whine of at least half a dozen electronic devices that have become so constant it is as close to silence as most of us perceive. I love the sociability of libraries, but there is also a very real need for some space to exist as a respite of the world. Even just a place where you can hear yourself think again. And yes, they can both coexist quite happily with one another. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.