What is more important in a library than anything else - than everything else - is the fact that it exists. - Archibald MacLeish
I grew up in the era where libraries were massive buildings (of course, I was much smaller). The pitter patter of feet of all sizes echoed across marble floors. Solid wood shelves soared toward heaven. They were filled with what seemed to be an infinite number of books that gave off a musty smell. A card catalog lined the walls. Librarians were serious people with buns, dowdy dresses and no sense of humor. Simply clearing one’s throat could result in a stern look or a "shush" command.
Libraries, like everything else, have evolved through the years. The library I use now is bright and airy. It is geared toward welcoming children, not intimidating them. The nondescript flooring absorbs noise rather than resonating sounds. Metal bookshelves replaced wood. Computers replaced the card catalog. Librarians look like everyone else and usually have a smile on their faces. I haven’t heard anyone “shushed” in years.
I’m not saying all these changes are good. In fact, when my daughter was studying for the Florida Bar exam, she had to leave a library because of the high noise factor. Her home with a toddler running around provided a better study zone. But to stay relevant change must happen.
A couple of libraries have come up with creative ways to attract more visitors for Valentine’s Day. For instance, one San Francisco library offered the first literary speed-dating event.
"Twenty-five lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender participants, and 38 straight participants the night before, got a chance to find love before Valentine's Day during the library's first literary speed-dating events. The events drew so much interest that the library hopes to replicate them again soon.
"Announced at the start of the year, each free event was designed to accommodate 36 people. Enrollment for the straight night closed at the end of January with a waiting list of 50 people, said librarian Donya Drummond.
"'This is changing the image of the library, showing that it can be a social place and not just a studious place," she said.
"Sharing a book about cooking and a sci-fi novel, 41-year-old Iris Tashjian, who said she came to find "if not love, maybe a book club," walked away with the latter."
Since I've been happily married for over 40 years, speed-dating is not something I’m interested in, but I do like this blind date idea from a New Zealand library.
"Monday's event pairs borrowers with specially wrapped mystery books, chosen by library staff as being particularly deserving of a hook-up with a willing reader, Queenstown library manager Robyn Robertson said.
"'We are choosing books we personally enjoyed or feel passionate about. The books are all gift-wrapped, with only a barcode on the outside, so it really is a blind date with a book and there's no telling what you might get.
"'There's a cheeky mix of fiction and non-fiction, with a nod towards the day that inspired the whole initiative. There's bound to be some romance in there - it is Valentine's Day after all - but there's also a real mix of other genres.
"'Like any date, there's an element of risk. But who knows; it could spark a lifelong love affair with a new author," Mrs Robertson said."
You can read the entire articles here and here.
Do you visit your library as much as you used to? Does your library plan events that are beyond the usual bounds of their normal activities?
Before I go, I’d like to thank The Rainy Day Wanderer for the Stylish Blogger, Write Hard and Pass the Love 2011 Awards. I am a fairly new follower, but I have found her blog is fun to read, informative and full of interesting links. So if you haven’t stopped by yet, I’d recommend a visit. You can also find out more about each award.
I’m supposed to tell seven things about myself for the Stylish Blogger award. In March 2010, I had a hard time coming up with five. Nothing has changed since then, so I will stick to those five. If you missed it, you can read them here.
As far as passing them along, I’ll reprint something from the blog post mentioned above. "I'm supposed to pass these awards along. I‘m doing that by saying THANK YOU to all of you who take the time to visit and to those who go a step farther and leave a comment and/or become a follower. You make the work that goes into blogging worth it and keep me motivated to improve my writing. Please feel free to help yourself to one, two or all three of the awards. Don’t be shy. You deserve them, for without you, writing this blog would be a rather unrewarding exercise of futility."
Happy Valentine's Day and thanks for visiting. I hope to see you again next week.
Tags: Archibald MacLeish, library, Valentine’s Day, literary speed-dating, blind dates, Rainy Day Wanderer,awards,