Maybe most libraries think about it differently, but Darien Library is sending more staff members to Los Angeles for BookExpo America, the majority of whom will be Circulation staff, two of them part-time, than to any other conference this year. It’s a major commitment on our part, but for nearly all our staff, this is the most important event of the year. They love it! Now I wouldn’t expect many east coast libraries to follow suit, but how many libraries out there will be sending part-time OR even full-time Circ staff to BookExpo, and when it comes east next year, how many from here will do that? Many libraries will say they can’t, don’t have the resources (though that’s just another way of saying they have different priorities) but nearly all of them will still be sending the same people to attend ALA again and sit in the same tired old meetings, where nothing gets done that has the LEAST amount of impact on the central core of what happens in a successful library: the in-the-moment, one-to-one relationship between an engaged staff member and a committed patron.
We need great people to make our library a success — we just don’t have any preconditions about who they are, or what degree they do or do not have, just what they stand for, and what they can do.
And we don’t limit them in what they can do. We trust our Circulation staff with the responsibility of buying all our adult fiction – they have the budget and it’s their choice. Who knows better what our patrons would like, or is in a better position to react to their needs than the people on the front lines? And who better to “hand sell” an item than someone who participated in the decision to acquire it?
The Library 2.0 question is “Do you trust your patron?” The Library Eternal question is, “Do you trust your staff – all of them?”
Alan Gray, Darien Library
A note from Michael: I’ve blogged about Darien Library a lot because I truly believe in the models they are creating. This guest post comes from some emailing Alan and I did these past few days while I’m prepping my Australia talks. I appreciate his candor, viewpoint and willingness to write this.