Living room of the community

Reading through the latest (paper) issue of Incite, I very much liked this editorial, it reminds me that although new technologies and information delivery are important they are not the only factors which make libraries important.

The one constant in this changing environment
is the importance of the physical library as a safe
haven, a neutral space, and the living room of the
community, whether your community is a school,
college, university workplace, or public library.
In considering new technologies we need to
consider how we can build upon this reputation
to offer trusted but exciting services.
I live in Orange on the NSW Central Tablelands.
For us December through to April is backpacker
season as young people from across the world
descend for seasonal picking of stone fruit,
apples, and wine grapes. Every available seat
(and power point!) is given over to internet access
whether through our PC network or Wi fi. I know
from experience that many of you have similar
experiences. Safe in the knowledge of the ‘library
as a safe place’ we know that libraries around the
world are providing the same welcome to young
Australians.

From my office I am afforded a wonderful
view of the public spaces on the floor below.
I can’t let talk of the library as the community
living room go without reference to an incident
which occurred a few days before Christmas.
My attention was caught by a woman who had
pulled together a couple of our large tables
over which she had neatly laid navy fabric with
pattern pieces pinned in place. Her sewing basket
was on a chair nearby. Without fuss, and totally
unaware of her amazed but approving audience
she calmly set about cutting. Are our tables bigger
than the domestic model, was it a Christmas gift
she wanted to construct in secret, or was she a
grey nomad who was taking advantage of our
space? Who cares, I was just delighted that she
felt comfortable enough to be able to do so.

Jan Richards, ALIA President, in Incite at: http://alia.org.au/publishing/incite/2010/01-02/frontline.pdf

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