The value of participatory service is manifested in libraries that embark on the journey of meeting the needs of the people in their communities – in both virtual and place-based spaces. Aaron Schmidt’s The User Experience: Services Before Content discusses how collaborating with community members would both satisfy patrons intellectual needs and integrate the library into the lives of the people it serves. Schmidt opined, “Our time would be better spent observing the core needs of our communities and thinking of exciting ways to meet them.”
After evaluating the needs of the communities they serve, open-minded individuals in the library may consider employing relevant technological solutions. Stephens’ column piece Into a New World of Librarianship emphasized the need to direct any technolust urges into an organic, breathing technology plan designed with a clear picture of the communities’ needs in mind – ideally with patron feedback and participation. Most public libraries offer patrons access to information in their electronic catalogs and on the Internet (i.e. computer workstations and Internet access). A few libraries will be able to incorporate extremely modern information technologies that allow patrons to access/manipulate data, while cooperating and collaborating with other library patrons (See Transformation Lab – Prototyping the Future). More realistic solutions to consider in creating a comfortable, social, yet, studious atmosphere in a library would be to incorporate an Internet Cafe and a number of public spaces for community groups to meet, as suggested in Hamilton’s Public libraries open way for drinks, snacks and mobiles.
I plan to do further study on information and learning commons mentioned in Loertscher’s Flip This Library for LIS 758 – Community Informatics (See Journal of Community Informatics). I look forward to observing how Loyola students use the space and services offered in the University’s Information Commons (See Virtual Tour). Loertscher describes a learning commons that is integrated into the activities of its community. The ideal learning commons would provided people with a politically neutral, public, brainstorming center.
Transformation Lab – Prototyping the Future raises the idea that society will never experience the library of the future – it is ever changing. As individuals in the library community can expect to continuously change physically, mentally, and emotionally, “the Library is human” meme (coined by Michael Stephens) can be applied to inspire libraries to plan, learn, and evolve as dynamic people do.
The Library is human may become a living organism in each community through the collective participation of the Library staff and the Library community.