Friday, 24 August 2012

The changing role of libraries

Hello brilliant people!

I've been thinking a lot lately about how libraries are changing so rapidly. I know our little library in Oamaru is no exception. I get the feeling that lots of people all over the library sectors are opposed to change but actually it is one of the things in life that you know for certain will happen. For me, personally, I would rather just deal with it and adapt to new ways of thinking and working, than fight it.
In a library context, change means the library is no longer a sacred space of absolute silence and stern librarians, it is a vibrant, exciting place of lifelong learning, community interaction and recreation.

 I feel very excited that I have come into libraries at a time like this. You no longer have to be the traditional librarian. People with other skills in areas like music, graphic design, web design skills and teaching are central to making the library a community hub. Already, just in my first few years of working in libraries ( and working in general) I have learnt an astounding amount. I have learned what it means to be professional, the difference librarians can make for individuals, how to utilise my non-library related skills like music and art and how to go after what I really want. I don't think this would have been possible in the library of 5 or 10 years ago.

What I love about libraries now is the way they all seem to be buzzing with activity- it's so cool! I was recently in Christchurch for a course and my colleague and I had the opportunity to visit some of their libraries. We were so impressed! In the face of so much change the librarians have shown their resilience and have created true community hubs.

There are so many things libraries can offer the community but also so many obstacles to overcome. Sometimes I find it hard to stay positive and upbeat but after reading the Public Libraries Framework 2012-17 I felt much more motivated. It reminded me of why I work in and love libraries. It also gave me perspective- NZ libraries are not the only ones going through tough times. I definitely recommend reading it- the team who put it together has done a great job.

I've just arrived back from running a Wriggle and Rhyme session and I'm feeling so happy about the impact we are having with the mums and their children. Librarians DO make a difference in people's lives and I really think we need to remember that and keep on being  positive, skilled and vibrant advocates for lifelong learning and community spirit.

Any comments are welcomed, or tweet me @JuliadeRuiter- I'd really love to hear from you!

Julia :)

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