The Anythink Libraries bookmobile was part of the Memorial Day parade in one of our local communities. I was surprised at how people responded with such admiration and affection as the bookmobile closed the parade. Onlookers cheered, applauded, and shouted out, “We love our library!” I know that moments like this occur for public libraries everywhere. This sense of pride and heartfelt connection brings to mind the respect that public libraries garner in our communities. Public libraries are among the most trusted institutions in the United States. With this trust, I realize that libraries have earned the responsibility—and even the power—to help create sustainable communities.
July/August 2017Volume 56, No. 4
Science is having a parsec. It’s one of the most popular trending topics in popular non fiction. Let’s give some credit to Adam and Jamie of the television show Mythbusters (2003–16) for showing us all how to blow stuff up safely, and to Bill Nye for inspiring millions of science fair projects that weren’t boring. It didn’t take long for compelling science non fiction to make its way to print, screen, and airwaves. Science is cool, trending, fun, and interesting. And, no surprise here, infinitesimal. Here is a mere sampling of some new, quirky, fascinating books, movies, podcasts, and more to recommend to patrons seeking an instant chemical reaction.
“But, librarians aren’t teachers.” This was one of the first (and most common) comments I encountered when I began my research. “Degree-wise, yes. But,” I asked, “are they instructors?” Do most libraries (read this as librarians) have to walk someone through a process, whether it be how to download and use an app, reserve a book or a room, or access and use library databases? What about programs and classes? Most libraries today are offering a variety of choices to their adult communities: help with résumés, genealogy, technology. Name a topic, and some library in the United States is probably offering a class or program. Do these all count as teaching? Of course they do.
I often call public libraries the “people’s university” because as an institution, we serve anyone who comes through our doors with an interest in learning. The public library is a welcoming community space for people of all ages to gather, connect with one another, tinker and try new things, and cultivate new ideas. Whether people come to visit for business networking meetings, looking for research materials for school projects, grabbing popular movies, or learning how to download or stream digital media content, it’s hard to walk out of a library without learning something new.
As podcasts have further embedded themselves into popular culture, public libraries have become active producers of podcast content, through both workshops for patrons and library-hosted programs. At their base level, podcasts are an effective way of archiving library programs and making them accessible to patrons who are unable to attend. Yet many public libraries are pushing beyond merely recording author talks by producing shows that supplement existing programs, reflect the communities they serve, and engage patrons in a unique way. The following is just a sample of the many innovative ways public libraries employ podcasts.
In August 2015, I invited Evan Silva, fantasy football author/podcaster/expert, to speak to an audience at the Skokie (IL) Public Library (SPL). Silva, though well known in the fantasy football world, had never spoken at a library or similar educational institution and wasn’t sure why I would contact him. To me, the connection was obvious. Librarians help and teach our patrons to find the best information possible in order to make the best decisions possible.