This is something I’ve been thinking about more and more lately. We hear it everywhere we turn. Libraries need to be bigger, brighter, bolder. They need to have all the latest gadgets. They need to be reinvented. And if you don’t? Well, you’re behind the times and aren’t being a forward thinker.
I personally hate this way of thinking and I do mean HATE. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with it to a point. Libraries should be reinventing themselves. It helps us stay fresh and alive, but saying there is only one way to move forward is where I cringe. The thing about libraries is we are each here to serve our communities. What may work for me, may not work for someone else. Even if the library is only 10 minutes away. It’s crazy how vastly different places can be and how meeting the needs of those people can vary so much.
Libraries move at different speeds. It’s not one size fits all. Some can afford to have a huge digital media lab or teen space and all the trinkets that go with it. While others have to nickel and dime everything. Does this mean those libraries who can afford all the fancy things are better? Not necessarily. If you bought 3D printers for the teens, but what they really needed were laptops/computers in order to do homework then you’ve missed the mark. You’ve given them something shiny, but you haven’t given them what they needed.
So often I think we get distracted by what we don’t have. I know I’ve been there. Wished we had this or that. And some of it would totally benefit my teens, like their own space, but some of it is just toy envy. It’s easy to get lost in that cycle and to forget that most of it doesn’t matter. We don’t need to be cutting edge to make a difference. Let me say that again…
We don’t need to be cutting edge to make a difference.
Sometimes teens just want a safe place to hang out. Sometimes they just need to know they’ll be accepted and welcomed no matter what. Sometimes they just need a little encouragement to make it through tests/finals/life/etc. Sometimes they just need to play Apples to Apples for 3 hours straight. And that’s okay!
Basically, what I’m trying to say is keep doing what you’re doing. If you can afford the latest and the greatest and your community loves it…KEEP GOING! If your teens are more interested in after-school study areas than 3D printer workshops…KEEP GOING. If your teens love to come in and play Magic or D&D or Apples to Apples…KEEP GOING.
Do what’s BEST for you/your community and don’t let ANYONE ever tell you you’re not good enough.