Friday, June 4

The Relevancy of Public Libraries

Do you think public libraries are a white elephant, an institution that is no longer relevant? I thought for a moment. Actually I was surprised to hear such a question. Wasn't it obvious that public libraries are still an important and vital asset to the community? Yet this highly intelligent person did not understand the need for the public library.

Each librarian employed within the Flowood Library is a problem solver, capable of providing basic library services to patrons in need, but also able to go beyond the call of duty to solve problems that a patron would never be able to solve without help.

Here are a few examples:

A young woman walks in and needs assistance typing up a vehicle title. This would require the use of a typewriter. What's a typewriter? Do they even have those anymore? I sat down with her and she handed me the document to type. She also handed me some carbon paper. I hadn't seen carbon paper since the 80s, but I still remembered how to use it. It was precision typing. Making a mistake was not an option. I completed the task and handed her the documents.

I had a patron who needed air put in her tires. I was certified in the use of a tire gauge and a bicycle pump, but I reached for my portable air compressor and we went outside. Putting air in a tire seems to be a challenge for some patrons. I solved her problem. She went happily on her way.

A librarian is the Jack or Jill of all trades, but a master of none. If we don't have the answer to the patron's question, then we know someone who knows someone who has the answer. A librarian is like a human search engine.

The public library is here to stay for as long as people need information assistance, as long as there is one unique problem to solve. All you need is a library card. Most of what we offer is available free of charge. Our purpose here is to improve literacy, but also to help build a better community.

I sit back in my office chair and look at the time. It's later in the afternoon. I hope it will be a peaceful evening. One of my department managers is standing at my office door. She tells me that there is a problem in the Children's Department. Two teenagers, a boy and girl are sitting too close together. Young love, I remember it well. I glance over at my squirt gun.

"I'll take care of it," I said.

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