National Library Week is coming up... soon...ish...? (It's in April) But in case you were thinking about it already (hey, I'm already thinking summer reading - and I'm sure a lot of you are, too), here's a quick snapshot of what my library did last year.
Based on a blog entry from many years ago (I think it was The Swiss Army Librarian, but I can't seem to find the original post; at any rate, thanks, Brian!!), I created a new kind of display for National Library Week.
In the past, we'd asked patrons to write why they love the library, but it seemed a little... self-congratulatory. A little too "you like me, you really like me!!"
So last year, I went with a more practical approach. I put up a posterboard right by the entrance of the library with a simple question: Why did you come to the library today?
I added a little stand with post-its and left the display to grow on its own.
By the end of the week, there were over 100 post-its on the board with a wonderful array of responses. Honestly, I was surprised at the variety. It also spoke to me about meeting our patrons' needs as they actually exist, not as I assume they are.
The majority of patrons came in for our materials (yay!). They were checking out books, DVDs, and CDs, and were sometimes looking for specific things (how to speak French for kids, for examples, or the Harry Potter series).
Other people wrote about the programs they were attending, both children and adults:
· To make French Toast! YUM! (a Sweet Snacks program I was running that week)
· We came for Baby Time with Miss Laura! We love it!
· Tamaron Book group – Book selected. Nice ladies!!
· Came to yoga!
Several people wanted to use the library as a workspace: making copies or using the Internet and the printers, and some were looking for quiet to work on their homework. One was here to work on her master’s thesis in peace!
Some people even wrote specifically about our staff (far more organically, I feel, than if we had demanded they write about their love for us):
· To see my good friend Susan and have her pick out books for me! Thanks!
· Return a book and see the awesome librarians! Thanks for all you do!
And, of course, as there always will be when something is crowd sourced, there were answers that made us laugh.
· Because they made me but I didn’t mind.
· My turtle needed more ointment
· Because I missed the train.
Most of all, though, it was inspiring to have people comment on the value of the library itself in their lives:
· I know I can acquire knowledge here
· It’s the center of our town
· To have fun
· Because I’m always happy when surrounded by books!
· It’s a beautiful day and the library makes it even better!
· For inspiration and insight
· It is great and very friendly. Keep it up.
· I came to the library because I love to read!
· For my social life!
· To be a good friend.
The answers surprised and delighted us and we look forward to putting out post-its again next year.
What do you have planned for National Library Week this year?