Library Closure

The Olympia Timberland Library is my church, in a way.
My church was closed on Friday for a staff training.
I was supposed to meet my husband there at 11:00 am. I got there a few minutes early, thinking that me and the toddler would hang out in the children's section for a bit, where he likes to find crayons hidden amongst the books and eat them like candy. He runs away and laughs at me when I try to stop him.
Anyway, we got there and the library was closed. I sat in front for about five or ten minutes. There was a person walking up to use the library about every ten seconds. Everyone seemed to share my shock that the library was closed on a Friday.
The parking lot was pretty full for a closed business! Just as someone got back in their car and pulled out, another couple cars would be parking. More people who I would watch walk up, look confused, then aghast- How could it be closed on a Friday???-and return to their car.
I knew our library was well-used, but I don't know that I realized how well-used it really is until yesterday.
I listened to several people talk about their library concerns. Not enough hours. No evening hours on the weekend...grumble, grumble.
I think its lovely that we love our library so well. I wonder if we as library-lovers (librariphiles?) couldn't be doing more to support the expansion of this vital community resource. We borrow books, CDs, movies. We hide when we have lost material charges. We return the damn thing 6 months later, and continue on.
Do we take our library for granted? With all of its usership, it seems that only the most die-hard library geeks join the Friends of the Library, or Timberland Regional Library Foundation, or concern themselves with the politics surrounding the library. How long has it been since our library expanded? 30 years?
Perhaps we are too passive in our love for the library.
I think its time I considered tithing.


Blogger crenshaw sepulveda said...

Lots of people arriving in cars, you say. I find that interesting given that a good deal of the public seems to think that our library is only inhabited by the homeless. Homeless people snoring away in vomit and urine stained furniture. Alternately stinking up the place or trying to clean up in the restrooms.

I've often said it before, libraries are the only thing government does well. Like you I believe that it is time for the governing bodies to do something about our library. Not to run off the homeless, but to make the library more of what we use it for and what we need.

There is almost never a time when I don't have at least one library book in my possession, actively being read, and often times I have more than one as my reserves come in more quickly then I can keep up with them.

You all know that I love our library and you know that I want it to be a better place. I agree with Jade that we that love our library have to start showing it some love. And I don't think it is a small minority that loves the library, I believe that Olympia has probably got more library users per capita than just about anywhere else in the state (well there is a library in the San Juans that is better utilized per capita, but then again so is the state liquor store there). I think we that love the library have to start letting the library officials that we are out there, not just as statistics, but as a group of people ready for some interesting changes in our library system.

What needs to be changed? For sure a larger facility. More materials. Some experimental forms of lending. Art, tools, maybe even pickup trucks. Who knows, we're the children of a brewery and an experimental college, time to get experimental on us. I would like to see our library provide some better outreach to our homeless population, maybe design the next library with the homeless in mind. The library needs to be a bit closer to downtown. I see it as a center piece of downtown. I'd love to see it there as part of Sylvester Park but that probably won't fly. I can dream, but I can't put wings on this one.

Right now the library can improve its service by providing more hours of service. I'm thinking later into the night and making Sundays year round. On an hourly basis Sunday is the busiest day for the library in Olympia (maybe there is this church like aspect you describe). Saturdays could use some additional hours as well.

Another thing that could be fixed right away is the holds system on books. I've waited more than a year for some books. This can no go on. This is a sign that the system for holds is broken and a service is being delivered very poorly. To be honest, the library system should hire me on as a consultant in this area, I'd get those holds out a lot faster and save them enough money to expand their somewhat poor collection of material.

We have a wonderful library and wonderful library users. I find the staff to be equally wonderful in most cases. We've got some great stuff going on in our library but it can't stay the way it is. It is time for our library to expand, it is time to start serving the public in innovative ways. It is time to make sure the money and resources of the library are being well utilized.

12:27 AM  

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