Posted by: Burlington Public Library (WA) | November 21, 2011

Being most things to most people

Today I was cruising through the library, cleaning up and looking for people wanting help, when a young woman stopped me.  She pointed toward one of the three Internet computers that sit outside the computer lab.  There was a gaggle of teenagers peering over the shoulder of the computer user, doing a pretty good job at keeping their comments at a reasonable noise level.  “Is that ok?” she asked.  Her tone of voice indicated that she didn’t think so.

“Yes,” I said.  “Those three computers are for people who want to work together.  As long as they’re not disturbing others, it’s ok for them to be there.”

As she left, I reflected on issues like this that rise frequently.  The library is a public facility, serving a community.  It’s based on sharing: sharing space, materials, resources, and funds.  A community is made up of all kinds of different people with different expectations, needs, and wants.  How does a little library be all things to all people?   Maybe a better question is, how does a little library be most things to most people?

I’d love to know what you think.  How are we doing? 
Tell us in the comments.

                 –Mary Beth


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