Benson Memorial Library, Libraries, Life

Small Town Library Outreach

If you follow my Twitter feed, you’ll have noticed that we hired a Historian at the Benson Memorial Library last month. I’ve talked about the reason behind this before, but I’ll sum it up here again: our town and community have an extremely rich history due to the discovery of oil here in the 1860’s. With that came a lot of national attention and money, some of which still remains to this day. When a community has a rich history like Titusville does, it makes perfect sense for the public library to be the place where community members can learn and become engaged and informed about the past. When we’re all aware of what has come before us, we can make solid decisions about the future that contribute to a stronger today. 

Cut to a scene at a local gas station about one week ago: someone there walks up to me and says “hey, you’re that library guy right?” to which I reply with a very positive “Yes!”. The best library outreach happens in situations like this, so when I was first approached with this question I knew this was gonna be good. Our conversation went like this:

“I saw in the newspaper that you hired a historian. That’s a really great idea because we have so much history around here. In fact, I have something I’d like for you at the library to dig up.”

After that, I listened to the story and it was quite an interesting one regarding a now ghost town just a few miles up the road from us called Pithole. I got the contact information and basic details I needed, went back to the library, and handed it off to Jess, our Historian.

Over the next week, Jess got into the nitty gritty of the patron’s requests and found out some information that they were looking for. Jess sent all of this information to the patron via email. Here’s what that email looked like:

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Pretty good, eh? That’s some nice and thorough work there. But that’s not where it ends. Jess got this kind email back from the patron:

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And now every time I stop at this gas station to fill up my car with gas or get some of their delicious chocolate milk I see this person and we have a nice kind chat. Libraries are all about bringing people together, and this is just an example of how we do it here in Titusville.

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Benson Memorial Library, Community Building, Family, Libraries

Outreach/Community

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Here at the Benson Memorial Library I’m kind of thrust into the  outreach portion of the library. I don’t mind at all….it is a portion of my job that I’ve enjoyed at every library I have worked at and I believe it is one of the most important things a public library can do in this day in age. Getting out there and talking to your community can lead to amazing things.

This past weekend, my town held its yearly Oil Fest event. The library wasn’t really involved in my first year here as we were just moving in and getting settled. This year, we went all out. On Friday, the library kicked off the festival with our LOL: Lunch on the Lawn Local Music Series. All through the week we hosted the Oil Region Alliance Exhibit “Walking The Line“. We had a booth at the festival where we raised money through our Friends of the Library group by raffling off a basket of books donated by DK Publishing (thanks!)

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The big event was our participation in the parade (pictured above). My awesome partner Haley, our sons Finn and Aero, and our most awesome janitor/all around radical human being Emi Foxberg and her kids Tilley and Abe led our “float”. I use quotes because it was just a book cart full of 200 books that were handed out to kids. Many thanks to Haley for pushing that rickity old cart for a mile in the 95% humidity that day.

You make outreach happen however you can. Sometimes you have staff helping out. Sometimes you have volunteers and library related groups like the board of directors or the Friends of the Library helping out. Other times, you call on family and friends. Outreach is a lot of work: there’s the planning and the execution. Always thank those who help out every step of the way. In the end, always remember just how important outreach is to the community. This gets your library’s name in all the conversations happening around the community. It is a positive thing. THIS is one of the ways we can keep libraries relevant and funded in the 21st century.

 

Libraries

Happy Patrons

Today I helped a patron set up his wireless hotspot on his Android phone.  He spoke English, but according to him, “it’s not good.”  We found a happy medium.  My 5 years of public school Spanish came in a bit handy.  We got the hotspot up and running and I wrote him directions in both Spanish and English.  He learned some English and how to set up a hotspot, and I learned some Spanish.

I was a bit scared to help him at first, but then I thought, what the hell do I have to lose?  Why not give it a shot.  I did, it worked, and he was very happy.

“Now, I can go on the internet when I get home from work at 1am”

Happy!