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.

Libraries, Teens

Part 4: What people want from their libraries

The always observant Stephen Abram points out that the new Pew Internet & American Life Project Report on Libraries has arrived and it is a MUST READ for libraries.  The part that stood out to me?  Part 4: What people want from their libraries.  If we’re not listening to our communities, what are we doing?

Particulary interesting to me (being a librarian involved with serving Youth) was the following:

Almost three-quarters (74%) of Americans think it is “very important” for public libraries to provide programs and classes for children and teens. Another 21% consider these programs “somewhat important,” while 2% say they are “not too important” and 2% say they are “not at all important.”

Some 92% of Hispanics and 86% of blacks consider these classes to be “very important” to the community, making them significantly more than whites (68%) to say this. Additionally, women (79%) are more likely than men (68%) to consider this resource “very important,” as are Americans in households making less than $75,000 per year (79%) compared with those in households earning more (65%).

Parents in our focus groups almost uniformly appreciated children’s programming at their local libraries. Some parents said that they would appreciate extended hours at libraries so their children could spend time there in a monitored environment; others wished there were more activities on weekends, instead of during the work day.

Many librarians in the online canvassing wrote about their experiences creating “hangout” spaces and activities for teens, citing importance of keeping teens engaged with the library as they grow older. “Interacting with children and young adults at their schools is an important aspect of encouraging these groups to use the library at a young age,” one wrote. “These groups may be more likely to use the library as adults if they are comfortable there as children.”

Finally, keeping these spaces apart from the main reading room areas of the library seemed to be an important point for many of our focus group members, as many of them complained about increased noise levels during our sessions.

 

 

Thanks for sharing this Stephen!