Athletes are super lucky. If they go into professional sports, they can play 10-20 years, retire, and try another career. Or heck, they can just retire and do nothing. I wish librarians had that option.
I want to retire from librarianship but I can’t at this moment so I won’t. I’m tired of endlessly debating and wondering “WHAT IS A LIBRARY IN THE 21ST CENTURY?” I’m tired of the funding battles, the constant “we need to prove our worth” crusade, and the librarian stereotype. I’m just really, really tired.
I know there are a lot of libraries out there doing pretty good work. I am happy that those libraries exist! However, for every library that does pretty good work are another 100 or so doing average to below average work. It’s like the force is out of balance like OMG woah. We’re not all on the same page and it is tiring and frustrating.
It was at this point in the past that I would ask the question “Well how can we all get on the same page?” but you know what I’m going to do now? I’m not going to ask that. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if we wanna beat this and truly evolve we’ve gotta stop calling this thing a library. We need to think of it in another way. We don’t need to focus most of our energy on being a place that lends out stuff. We need to focus most of energy on being a place that is a destination or a shared experience. You can easily say “well a library has always been about that” and I agree. But try telling that to the average every library user non-librarian type person. They still see, and will continue to see, a library as a place where you get stuff. Same thing with our funding agencies.
So how do we break away from the past and truly evolve? I’d like to see a “library” break away and become a place that focuses most of our energy on being the destination and shared experience center. It shouldn’t be called a library. It should be called something else. I don’t know what that something else is. I do know that if it is called a “library” we’ll all be reading a Library Journal-esque piece like this and then spending our nights endlessly debating it on the Library Facebook Group of the Moment. And we don’t want to do that because we have other things to do that are a lot more fun.
If we continue our current ways, I just don’t know if it’s going to work out. Let’s look at what we do, blow it all up, and start over! EVOLUTION!
(image by Ellen Forsyth, found here https://goo.gl/6DwWhk)