I woke up this morning in a panic because I had a dream (actually, it was more like a nightmare) that I had left out some important examples in our chapter on evaluation and demonstrating impact. I went back to the chapter. I had. So much for my pontificating (navel gazing?) on the extreme value of “outcomes” and “impacts”. Although she wasn’t actually in my dream, the Annoyed Librarian could have been reviewing my chapter, that’s how bad this dream was. So, I guess my subconscious was trying to tell me something. (And here I am talking about myself again!!)
Needless to say, I’ve spent the day sifting through correspondence that Steven and I have received over the course of our work on this project. What a great way to spend a day (even if it means fewer words on the page at the end of it!). Though I didn’t quite find the evaluation examples I was looking for (more sleuthing – I’ll find them!) I was reminded yet again of the fantastic community-building work our colleagues are doing all over the county. Still, the spirit and spunky of our small, rural libraries never ceases to amaze me – I have a special place in my heart for this work.
This very moment, I’m impressed with Jean Workman, director of the F D Campbell Memorial Library in PA. Check out the graphic on her library’s home page. I love the way she brings traditional library services (books) and technology together to form the supporting column for her library. You “enter” the library’s website by clicking on the PC (they have three of them onsite) and exploring a mix of consortia and state-wide services, along with tid-bits about the library’s local services and history.
I’m particularly interested in the very simple yet powerful way that Jean has reached out in partnership to local small businesses. Noting that both small businesses and small libraries “have a place in the scheme of things (because we) deal in service and caring to our people,” Jean identifies mutual purpose and benefits to working together. In that spirit, she developed summer programs for children and teens that require library patrons (she calls them “members”) to visit one place (the library) and then the other (local business) to complete the program. Teens completed a bike scavenger hunt by visiting local business stops and collecting prizes at the library; children pick up coloring content papers in local businesses stops, but bring them back completed to the library. Though obviously small and operating with limited resources, Jean exemplifies a few of the strategies that have worked for large urban libraries with strong community support: she emphasizes her value to the community based on their needs, she works with small business through partnerships, and she focuses on children and teens. (Can you tell I just read “The Thriving Library” by Marylaine Block? It’s great!)
Thanks Jean for your work in Bessemer. And thanks for sharing your success with all of us!