Category Archives: Community Focus

It’s the Latest, It’s the Greatest, It’s the Library

LibraryIn 1967, when I was 10 years old, an ad campaign for libraries swept the nation.

There’s a place for you and a place for me,
it’s the local public library.
They have books and things
that they lend for free.
It’s the latest, it’s the greatest, it’s the library.

The campaign was pretty much wasted on me. A book junkie from a young age (aren’t most writers wretched biblioholics?), libraries have always been magical places. I got stickers and bookmarks and other ridiculous prizes during summer reading programs as a child. I studied and slept on the library couches in college. I took my baby daughter to reading time. And when Dimitri and I would travel, we would seek out libraries as places to gain instant info about a community (and more recently, free wifi!).

As we’ve built Creating the Future, libraries have meant more and more to us. Several of our Creating the Future fellows are librarians, some working within public library systems, others working within statewide library associations. And last year, several of us had the privilege of facilitating a full day workshop with 50 library leaders from all across our state.

Educational, informational,
entertainment that’s sensational.
It’s a way of life, it’s for you and me.
It’s the latest, it’s the greatest, it’s the library.

What has changed since I was a child (or maybe it was always so, and those of us on the outside never realized it…) is that libraries are no longer about books or even about education; they are about community.

Through our work with library leaders over the past few years, we have had the opportunity to ask questions that have led to powerful answers about community and connection, about bringing people together and bringing out the best in them.

  • If our public library were 100% successful, what would life in our community look like and feel like? What would life be like for young children? For seniors? For high school kids? For working parents?
  • Who else in our community is passionate about creating that future? What might we all accomplish together that none of us could accomplish on our own?
  • What role could our library play in that work? What role could each individual in our library system play in making that dream a reality, in the day to day work each of us is already doing?

They have histories, they have mysteries
And for mothers, books of recipes.
See a movie show, hear a symphony.
It’s the latest, it’s the greatest, it’s the library.

Which leads to the work I’ll be doing this week, addressing 300 people at one of the most innovative library systems in the country, in Richland County, South Carolina. I’ll be asking them many of these same questions.

But you don’t have to work in a library to answer. So I”m asking you…

• If your own local library were 100% successful in its work, reaching for everything a library can make possible, what would life be like in your community?

• And what might libraries do to help make that dream a reality?

Many thanks to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for the lyrics, and for a synthesized MP3 of the library jingle. And many thanks to Marilyn Jenkins of the Allegheny County Library Association for introducing us to the Main Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, where the photo was taken.

Arizona’s Possibilities

Last night, one of our Immersion Course grads – the ever brilliant Alison Rapping – posted this at Facebook: Imagine what would be possible if we took all of the energy being put into SB1070 and invested it in building civic engagement, energizing our economy, creating innovative new industries, and enhancing our sense of Arizona… Continue Reading