From comments on the news items it is comforting to see so many Fentonites interested in a new library. My wife and I are big fans of such places. In fact my other half has designed, opened and managed school and university libraries.
Living in South America we are aware of the disadvantage people, and especially students, are at without access to books. I touched on the subject in “The Cost of Keeping Minds Sharp,” where it mentions the man who rides a donkey long distances to bring books to remote villages in Colombia.
The concept of reading is changing. Some people comment that computers and eReaders are making libraries obsolete. I and many others see these places changing, but not biting the dust.
My wife and I contemplated what a library should be. Our discussions ignited research on the subject including forum discussions. The following are our thoughts on the subject of what a new Fenton public library should offer.
Part one is defining what it is to the community. In our opinion a library provides tools to help people with their lives, hopes and dreams. It is a place of ideas, insights and possibilities. However there is a two way road here. The community should not just consume what the library offers, but it should help create the content that the facility offers.
To meet the objective of a library as stated above my wife and people from many library discussion groups state that professional dedicated librarians and other workers are most important. The people help make the library more than the facility alone. It is kind of like the best tool is of little value in the hands of those who do not know how to use it correctly. These professionals must bring the library and community needs together. For instance if a person is looking for a book about basic computing they can also advise of any computing classes being offered by adult education or community colleges. These are also the people who know how to introduce young minds to the benefits of reading and to train school groups.
We agreed that libraries must embrace technology. This does not mean to always buy the latest gadget though. Intelligent thought must be used. For instance, the website should not just give information, but allow for resident book reviews or community discussions on events pertaining to the library. In regards to eBooks many libraries have worked with publishers to be able to offer such things. There are a few different models available. Here is the link on Youtube to one that some places are using called “The Next Generation Digital Library.”
In terms of physical things my wife has been impressed by libraries across the world offering a music section. An excellent example is in Singapore where they actually dedicated an entire building to holding not just books about music, but recordings of music throughout the world and history. And I must say that the place was filled with researchers.
Personally I am a big fan of libraries that have a separate place where they have tables and a coffee shop with snacks available for sale. While some have designed it with square tables that students can put together for study groups, I am more of a fan of the small round individual tables.
Whether what my wife and I like is appropriate for the Fenton library is debatable. But with the interest shown by residents I believe it is worth while for a citizen/government planning committee to be put together now to determine what a new Fenton library should be. I know there is currently no plan or money for such and some people might think it is putting the horse before the cart. But in my opinion if you don’t know where you are going, then you don’t know how to get there. As for what citizens to put on the committee, well, they have already given you their names right here in the Fenton Patch.