20 August 2008

Building my own library

One of the things that I've thought off and on about for the last couple of years is starting my own library. I mean think about it: it would be fun to recruit your ideal staff, to decide how to run things, what the library would contain, and just the general shape and structure. I mean who wouldn't want to do that right? It was only today that I actually thought about what the library would look like (all because a friend asked, they know who they are.)

So first thing to do is not worry about things like money, land space, etc. Now some would say would get hung up on the user population, but I'm just going to say mine is the "ideal population" of the library I'm building. In other words I'm just going to pretend my library fits what the population needs. I'm just going to give a rough sketch cause if I think about it too much, I'll never post this.

So I would create my library in an area like Asheville, NC. I've always loved the area and seems to have an interesting and diverse population. It would be a public library open to everyone.

First thing I'd do is I'd want a partnership with local museums. The library wouldn't share staff or building space, but would all be in the same block and and would be able to collaborate on stuff together, i.e. when art museum has a display on Van Gogh, the library could prepare a book display on what's going on. Maybe the buildings would even connect by cool underground tunnels to get from one area to the next and exits would take you to various gardens. The library would be built with wireless, plenty of outlet to plug into scattered throughout. Furniture would be comfortable, sturdy, with some pieces being easy to move (like the teen's area.) Some of this furniture would also have outlets within them so that you could plug in your laptop.

Different sections in the library would include: Childrens, teens, adult, local history room, museum/gallery room (information related to museum on the local block), and technology room. Children's and teen's I'd leave to someone else to design, but they'd have the support they need to make them fun and exciting places. Same with local history room. The adult area, would just be a place where the adults could sit back for a bit and enjoy the newspaper or a good book. It would be on the opposite side of the library from Childrens/teens (no they wouldn't be able to wander off and leave their kids alone). The museum/gallery room would be information for special exhibits, books that related to what was going on, ephemeral material, etc. There would be computers scattered throughout for people to access the internet and the catalog.

The technology room would be where I spent a good bit of time. This would be the area where media items (DVD, CD's, etc) are, where there would be a viewing area for people to watch listen to these items, and equipment would be. But it would be so much more! It would be a play ground of sorts where people could try out different cameras, record their own movie, record podcasts, etc. Equipment would be there and people to staff it all hours the library is open so that they can get help if they need it. It would be a great place to just learn something new. Classes would be offered on a wide range of topics, including some led by the patrons! Why not let the teens show the parents how to create their own Facebook/Myspace page.

Staffing would be knowledgeable, enthusiastic staffing, that would want to be there. I'd poach Twitter/Friendfeed/Blog friends from other libraries. I'd hire someone else to run the library and I'd spend my time playing in the technology room. Even though someone else would run the library I'd set a few ground rules.
1st communication is important. That will be stressed to everyone that is hired. You can't communicate you can't work at my library.
2nd all employees have a say in policy. Sure there will have to be some things that have to be kept quiet at first (personal matters mainly), but I want the library to be as open as possible. No hiding new policies. If we're going to change the food policy, employees get to have some sort of say in it or at least know about it before it's launched.
3rd no burying one's head in the sand. If somethings not working don't hide that its not working or try to ignore it. Own up to it, explore options, and if it requires a change in personal it happens. Loyalty is great, but being loyal to someone just because they've been there 15 years isn't a good thing. If they can't cut it at the job anymore they either need to be reassigned or find a new place to work (harsh I know, but true.).
4th continuing education is important. Library will support as much as possible. Enough said.
5th Staff are treated like the professionals they are. I don't care if they don't have a degree, they help keep the library running and are important to it being open. Don't treat someone poorly just because they don't have the MLIS.

I've skipped over focusing on what the collection would be like and other things mostly because if I tried to cover everything this would be a 50 page long blog post and no one would read that. So did I miss anything really important? What would your library be like if you could create it?

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