I have learned a lot over the last eight months in my new position as a teen services librarian. The thing that has made the biggest impact is realizing that working in a library is about community. You must truly be open to all possibilities to serve the needs of that community. You never know who you meet that might provide a program for you to address the needs of your teens or community in general. You also never know when someone you meet might not fit into the library’s work at the time but maybe able to partner with another organization or person in the community to fit the needs of the people they are serving.
Over the past few months, I have experienced on two separate occasions situations that illustrate the previous point. I have always wanted to do some outdoor program not only because I love the outdoors but at the library I work at currently it lends itself to outdoor needs. The library was constructed to look like a ski lodge. It is built on a large lot that was left with a lot of open space. The land around the library includes a nature preserve and is close to the Atlanta Wild Animal rescue organization. The local high school has a concentration on the environment for the students. The local ranger for the nature preserve and myself have wanted to discuss partnering since both organizations are short-staffed.
After meeting with Ranger Robby, we realized that we might be able to offer a birding class at the library with the help possibly of the Atlanta Audubon society. The idea for this program is to explore birds around Atlanta, using birding guides that can be checked out at the library and then offer a hands on program at the nature preserve to put what the participants have learned into practice. (We hope to finalize this program and offer it in the Fall.)
At this same meeting while talking to Ranger Robby, he mentioned that he gives tours to boy scout and girl scout troops around the park. I had partnered with a local private school a few months ago to give a few classes and provide space for them to learn to study away from a school and home setting. I realized that Ranger Robby’s tours might be beneficial to this school and probably was not known to the head master. I mentioned it both to the ranger and head master and they are planning future tours.
As a member of the community, I feel that the library is not only there to provide programs and services to fill the needs of our community but to also be the conduit to match people in the community to help each other. We meet folks from all walks of life coming through our doors and have conversations on what they are doing. If we realize that we can match folks up or at least be a resource to our community we can truly be a resource for the community. The expenditure for the library is the staff time to build relationships. The investment we put into the relationships with the people who come into our doors and live in our community ultimately strengthens our role in the community. What do you think?