I’m going to be a librarian. Here are four things I’ll never do:
Touch books. There are plenty of librarians out there working in public libraries, research libraries, academic libraries, law libraries, museums, special collections, historical institutions, businesses, and government agencies who never touch a book as part of their professional work. Information is a librarian’s work, and, as you know, information doesn’t always come in the form of a beautiful, delicious-smelling book. Okay, I may get a job as a book cataloger or youth services librarian and these jobs may involve touching books. And I’ll always devour fiction on my personal time. My point is that many librarians don’t work in environments where books are prevalent, and even some of those who do barely ever lay a finger on a book while on the job.
Shush you. Sure, there’ll always be a need for quiet work spaces, but forward-thinking libraries and architects are also starting to build living rooms, learning commons, and shared workspaces where coffee and croissants are as welcome as conversation. Libraries have long featured community rooms, out-of-the-way spots where community functions are held. More and more, libraries are designing the centers of their spaces as the bustling hubs they are. The information desks and media check-out stations are becoming conversation-friendly spaces where neighbors can meet, grab a bite to eat, learn collaboratively, and work independently while enjoying the buzz of activity and conversation.
Say “no.” NO cell phones, NO email, NO beverages, NO talking…We’re all used to seeing these sorts of signs at libraries. Telling community members to turn off their cell phones while in a library is unrealistic and misses the point. Libraries should encourage visitors to use their phones to scan QR codes, access their Goodreads accounts, and ask librarians for help. Some smart librarians are designing apps for their communities.
Fine you. When I got to library school I found out I’m not the only one to wonder whether library fines do any good. I’ve learned many libraries are abolishing fines or implementing fine amnesty programs to welcome people back to their libraries. Fines can give people a negative view of the library and results in decreased use of services. And research has shown fines doesn’t necessarily encourage people to return materials on time.
NOTE: I wrote the following for Syracuse University’s Information Space Blog on February 6, 2012. Read the original post here. -Mia
Hi Mia! I really like this article. And I love thinking about old concepts in new ways. I always thought fines were this weird way libraries gained more revenue… until I was banned from checking out any books because I owed more than $2 or something. That’s not very friendly, especially since I’m already essentially paying for this public service. I welcome this new way of looking at libraries.
And I welcome your comments! The whole no fine idea is new to me, too. Well, librarianship ideas are all new to me, I suppose. I haven’t done much research on this issue, but I’m interested in learning more. Can fines increase circulation, help protect a collection, or make people feel invested in their libraries? You know how they say if you say something is free, people don’t value it, but if you put a price on it, people think it’s worth more? Could this idea have any effect on library fines’ effectiveness?