Friday, June 8, 2012

Getting Lost In A Library

Scavenger hunts are delightfully fun. Especially when it involves children They squeal with laughter, complain they can't find things, compare notes with friends to see who has found items, and by the end of the hunt they cry for more. Youth Services librarians can turn to this easy programming ideas year round. Its inexpensive, fun and brings patrons into the library. Which leads to another train of thought: why not tell public officials to literally get lost? Preferably in a library. How can this leap be made from a fun program for children to reaching out to public officials? Easy. It's called becoming creative in getting noticed by public officials. Public officials, whether on the local level, state or national, rarely understand the plight of libraries. In their eyes it is nice to have a library in the community but not a necessity. Library advocates know that this is a "myth" that has to be broken. This current economic downturn is a blessing in disguise for libraries. It's not a surprise to librarians that services are in demand. People in every community are suffering and looking for resources to find aid, jobs and entertainment on a dime. Libraries fill those needs and more. Which brings back to the topic of inviting public officials to get lost. When politicians campaign the promise the moon and then some. Not to get too political but do the hollow promises of hope and change come to mind. When it comes to libraries, every politician will claim they love their libraries. In their words they sing high praises for libraries and what they do for the community. In their actions, many times they vote against the very same institutions they claim to love. This is where librarians and library advocates must become vocal to educate local officials. In classic scavenger hunt fashion invite local officials to look for clues and materials that help patrons everyday at the library. Remind the participants not to worry if they get lost in the library. A helpful librarian will gladly help them find the path they need. The goal ultimately is to demonstrate to officials and library naysayers that the library has much more to offer beyond books. In many respects the local officials who choose to come will be amazed by the wealth of resources libraries provide on limited budgets. Getting lost in a library is easy. There are patrons who walk into the library everyday to enjoy getting lost between the stacks, surfing on the computer or with their noses in the newspapers. It's time that politicians and decision makers find that same joy. Then they will understand that the joy of getting lost in the library is as necessary as the air we breath. Don't be shy in telling a few local leaders to get lost ..... in the library. It may be the best invitation they receive all year.
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