Studies have shown that people relate libraries to books. I am not complaining about that – books are a great brand to be associated with. But too long now, libraries have been about more than books. We have been about collections, programs, literacy, learning, technology, community space and so much more.
So if the library brand is all that and more, it can’t be summarised as books. It’s not even about information, which used to be what I thought it was. No, the best way to sum up libraries for me is Access.
We provide people with access to:
- physical collections, such as books, DVDs, magazines, newspapers, audio and more
- online collections, such as information, e-books – e-magazines – e-music, learning programs and more
- space – to study, to meet, to learn, to work and more
- technology – to learn, to play, to work, to make contact, to conduct personal business and more
- programs – to learn, to have fun, to meet others in the community with similar interests
- help – for that information that is needed, for that task that needs to be completed online and for so much more
- contact – physical libraries have staff who meet many individuals needs of just being able to make contact with another human being
If we look at libraries as Access, then having romance books, games consoles and makerspaces is not outside what we provide, its just a different way to that traditionally recognised.
What we provide in terms of Access is decided by our users and of course our budgets. And some libraries may provide access to unusual things because that is what their users want or need. Some of the more unusual ones I have come across have been libraries lending tools, baking tins etc and running programs on things like butchering your own meat. These libraries are providing Access to the things their users want and good on them.
What’s the most unusual thing(s) you know of that a library has given their users access to?