3D printing, Libraries, Life

Library Stuff

I should write about libraries even though…

We got a 3D printer and some other fun technology at my library recently. We also got some awesome chairs and other neat things that really make the library smile a bit more. But I can’t help but thinking that all this stuff is meaningless and that the point where libraries make the most impact is in the day to day interactions we have with our community. What I enjoy the most these days is seeing the positive interactions our staff has with the community. So much great stuff can happen at the circulation desk. It is really what decides whether the community comes back in or not. Now don’t get me wrong…having a 3D printer or something else that is shiny and new is good as well, but I don’t think it should be the focus…of both our community library and our professional library conversations. I want more focus in our profession on how to we can be better human beings to each other. The problem is that “Be Nice to Each Other” and “Have Meaningful Conversations” are not headline grabbing stories or think pieces that people want to read, nor are they things that you should be reading…they are things you should be doing.

Maybe that’s why I don’t wanna write about libraries as much anymore. Writing what happened when you are nice to other human beings isn’t the same as actually experiencing a positive interaction. I could wear a smartphone around my neck like a necklace and use Periscope all day. That would be interesting.

I think librarians shouldn’t look up to librarians. I think we all  should look somewhere else for our inspiration. When we look up to each other what happens is something I think of as incestual inspiration. “OMG, ______ Library is doing this program with their community we need to do it!” and then so on and so forth until we’re all doing it. A truly beautiful library is one that is a reflection of its surroundings, not a cookie cutter of another library.

When I wanna think about something new, I’ve been using MixCloud (specifically these tracks) to help inspire me. I think about the structure and the form of these DJ mixes. The way that the songs ebb and flow into each other really warm my heart. The transition from one song to another is an important part of these mixes and when done correctly they can increase my energy level. They inspire me to think about the structure and pacing of our programs and services at the library. I don’t have a second chance to do things in the library and I want to make the most of this moment. The music fills my soul and bends my brain and out comes something that I think is unique to my community. Bend and break and twist and smoosh. Go left inside of right. Don’t listen to me. Put on TUSK by Fleetwood Mac instead and go batshit crazy letting that guitar riff into your heart. Then come up with a program for your library that is unlike anything and that fits your community.

Chattanooga Public Library, Libraries

Work spaces

The 2nd Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library.  I like to think of this as our own little fort.
The 2nd Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library. I like to think of this as a clubhouse where librarians and community can connect.

I have been thinking a lot recently about how we arrange our lives.  This may come from the fact that my family and I just bought a new home and we’re trying to see how to best organize our lives in this new home.  This may also come from the fact that we’ve got a lot of space on The 2nd Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library and the freedom to explore new ways to provide services to our community.

When I first arrived at the Chattanooga Public Library, I noticed that a few employees used The 4th Floor as their “office”…I used quotes because it wasn’t an office in the traditional sense.  They were camped out with their laptops and their other work around two large tables.  Everyone worked at their own project and every once in awhile they’d be a group conversation.  What impressed me about this work space was how their work was being done in public and how all of the employees were happy to be at work.  It has been said time and time again that collaborative work space like what I saw on the 4th Floor can lead to happier and more productive employees.  What really made me think about our work spaces was that what has been traditionally defined as office work was being done out in the public.  Public kept coming up for me.  We work in a public library.  We are public employees.  We work in a public space.

It all leads to what you see above: our public work space, or as I like to call it “a clubhouse where librarians and community can connect.”  I really like the idea of working in public and having a place where staff can come together and share ideas not only amongst themselves but with the community as well.  If a group of teens want to come in and hang out around this desk, that’s even better.  We can talk to them, share stories, listen to music, and interact.

In the long term, I’m trying to understand how this public work space can lead to staff not having to be tied to a desk schedule.  Think about the time we spend creating and managing desk schedules.  Think about how terribly lonely time spent at a public desk can be (especially if it is slow). It’s going to be something that will need to be tested through trial and error, but I’m sure we’ll find something that works for both us and our community in the long run.