Not Your Parents’ Public Libraries
If you’re new to the LIS world or you’re on the MARA side of things, you may not know (yet!) that public libraries are innovators. Particularly in the last 15 years or so, public and academic libraries have been reinventing themselves. They’re not just buildings filled with books anymore; they are vibrant, engaged, sometimes noisy spaces brimming with computers and technology, interesting programs, and whip-smart staff.
I had a hard time narrowing the list, but to give you a taste, here are just a few of the awesome and innovative programs in public libraries today:
- The Paschalville Branch of the Philadelphia Public Library lends neckties.
- Lots of libraries circulate museum passes.
- Texas-based Lewisville Public Library ran a tintype photography program.
- California’s Berkeley Public Library and Sacramento Public Library are among the libraries with tool lending libraries.
- At MIT, students can borrow artwork for their dorm rooms.
- Librarians in Portland, Oregon recommend books in person or on Twitter based on patron tattoos.
- And you can even check out humans at many libraries around the world.
These institutions are not your parents’ public libraries, and librarians today need a broader set of skills than ever before. They need to be able to suggest a science fiction book to an 8th grader, wrangle service dogs, and show a grandmother how to use her Kindle, as well as plan programs and manage the collection, which now can include physical objects plus print and digital materials.
Want to know more? Curious about what skills you need to work in public libraries? Join the Career Development team for a career-focused webcast with iSchool alumna Rosanne Macek and learn about the challenges and rewards of a career in public librarianship. On Wednesday, October 12 at 5:30 p.m. PDT, join me for The Good, the Bad and the Exciting: Public Librarianship Today.
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