Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The human strengths of libraries

From this wise, thought-provoking blog entry by Kathryn Greenhill:

I think our strengths over large ubiquitous sites like Amazon, Google and Wikipedia are – or should be:

  • our deep, human knowledge of the people in our community who use us 
  • our deep, human knowledge of people in our community who do not use us  
  • our deep, human knowledge of the specific information resources needed by our community  
  • our deep, human knowledge of how our community wants to find and discover information 
  • our deep, human knowledge of locally produced information  
  • our human ability to provide many different services to the same individual by our knowledge of them as people 
  • our human ability to anticipate desires and to delight our local community  
  • our buildings as a social hub for our local community
 Some of my own thoughts: the kids who come in to say hello, or who want someone to say hello to them.  The kids who want to share the book they love, the thing that's happened, something they've made, something to be celebrated or mourned or shared or asked about.  All the body language and tone of voice stuff that's not the exact words being uttered, but how they're being said, and maybe why, and therefore how we might/could/should react.  The place our library can have in the school's community and events (I'm just gearing up for our regular contribution to Spirit Week at the end of this term).  All those corridor/hallway interactions with staff that can lead to more in relation to the library.
I love how blog entries like this one from Kathryn Greenhill help me to think about my work, and how to do it better.  Go read the whole thing.

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