I swear I have this radar for people who say the word library.
I’m on a plane last week and I hear a pair two rows ahead of me talking about the library they work in. Drama this, drama that. I tuned in and out for the rest of the trip. (Should I have made my presence known??) Last night I’m at dinner and I hear someone across the restaurant – it was small, but still – say ‘library’ and I immediately say “Shhh!,” to my companion, “someone said ‘library.'” My friends know this about me. They roll their eyes. Sometimes it’s a soccer mom talking about taking her kids to storytime. Sometimes it’s a frustrated information-seeker talking about the stuff they couldn’t find there. Sometimes it’s my friends or neighbors talking about how much they love the library, but why they don’t go there much, or co-workers talking about our day’s work inside, outside, and around libraries. Nevermind, I’m always riveted. Regardless of how peripherally, or how deeply, connected you are to libraries, there’s a universal sentiment around them. People generally feel good about them. From those “library saved my life” stories all the way down to “I love the library, it’s just not for me,” I revel in the fact that there’s a feel good thing underneath it all.
Now, how can we leverage that to create a universal understanding – far beyond sentiment – about what libraries do and who they are for? And is it up to us?