Quick note: As we wrap up our week of celebrating high school graduations, Tina will announce the winner of the $25 Amazon.com gift card tomorrow. Thanks to everybody who commented and good luck!
A few weeks ago, I was asked to be a panelist during the Utah Library Association annual conference. Here I am afterwards, dining at Rooster's in Layton with YA authors (left to right) Lara Zielin, Adam Selzer, moi, Sheila A. Nielson, and Emily Wing Smith. From what I could tell, the librarians and their colleagues were there to bond, inspire, educate, share, and improve. As a huge fan of libraries, I was honored to be included.
My local library, which is about 10 minutes away from my house, is in danger of closing. If it does, our closest library is about 30 minutes away. Why is it in danger? Reportedly, not enough people are coming in to check out materials. It has lots of wonderful programs, especially for children, but since the elementary school is no longer located right next door to it, it's seen a decline in participants. I admit I don't take my kids to as many activities now that it's not quite as convenient to get them there after school. However, I do take them there once every or every-other week and we all check out books.
Going to the ULA conference made me see that librarians really do enjoy their jobs and want to promote reading. But here's my thoughts on that. When I go to my local library, there isn't any interaction with librarians. I go to the computer to look up the book I want (not a very user friendly program, but I won't get into that now), locate it on the shelf, and then check it out at a self-checkout station. (Even if there's a librarian doing something at the desk, she'll shoo me over to the self-checkout station.) Sometimes I never lay eyes on a librarian, and if I do, they're usually in the back room. I'm not saying they're not working; it's just that they're not interacting with the people. Sometimes I try to strike up a conversation with a librarian, but I get the feeling that I'm bothering him or her. I've been going to this library regularly for over 8 years and I only know one librarian's name. She was a real gem and I miss her. (She moved to another library years ago.)
I remember being so excited to go to the library as a child. Why? Because the librarians would help me find books, and then suggest other books, and when I came back, they'd ask how I liked the books. It was like my own little personal book club, and their passion for reading was contagious. In a world where technology has all but erased person-to-person interactions, I wish we could recapture that wonderful, magical feeling of knowing just beyond the library's doors is endless shelves of books as well as a helpful, encouraging, knowledgeable librarian who is glad to see us.
Would librarians giving library-goers personal interaction change the world? Maybe! After all, it changed my world when I was a child! Now I'll hop off my soapbox and see what you think. Is your library all computers and self-checkout stands? Or do you get a personal touch? Do you go to the library or find you have no need now that we have the internet? Do you like having a librarian help you, or would you rather do it yourself? Tell me! :)