This Webinar was originally given Thursday September 21, 2017
This webinar was presented live on Aug 3 at 12:00 pm Central time.
Last month's Library Journal highlighted a little library that could: the Fairmont Community Library Center, a branch of the Mississippi Valley Library District in Illinois. This dynamic branch has really stepped outside the traditional library box to address compelling needs in their community. They are impacting real lives by filling service gaps from preschool daycare to basic banking. Their obvious relevance in the community and the immediate positive outcomes of their work feel great. When we think about what they're doing as a model for the library of the future, though, we have to ask some tough questions about sustainability. Are non-traditional library services a fad, or are they fundamental to the future of libraries?
Large groups of people in many parts of the world feel threatened and disoriented by global economic changes that are hard to interpret and even harder to accommodate. New technology and automation are making once secure jobs obsolete. From the Brits that voted for Brexit, to the coal miners that voted for Trump, to the Filipinos that elected a tough talking Rodrigo Duterte, all of them are looking for a bit of security, a shield against forces they can't control. And herein, I argue, is a surprising and dramatic opportunity for local libraries. Hear me out.
If you work regularly with homeless patrons, you've likely encountered uncomfortable situations where communication seems to fail despite your best efforts. This article describes three common mistakes that can turn a merely uncomfortable situation volatile: "parenting" a patron, waiting, and worrying about gender. The advice here comes from Ryan Dowd, a man with decades of experience serving and working with the homeless. This article defines those three mistakes and offers guidelines to counteract them to help you diffuse, rather than escalate, tense situations.
The common mode, especially in large urban public libraries, is to speak of the challenges presented by our homeless patrons. They make other patrons feel uncomfortable, there are stories of staff confrontations, bad odors, and property damage... All of these are valid concerns. This article, however, will make the case that your library's response to homeless patrons can let you shine a bright light on the relevance and power of a 21st century library in a way that few other issues can. And at the best-run libraries all around the country, it already is.