John Palfrey, the keynote for Day 2, challenged us to “create a new nostalgia” for the library. The old nostalgia consisted of storytime and wandering shelves. But what do we want patrons to remember about the library 10 years from now? Here's my take:
1. Above all else, the library was a place where I could be creative.
The maker space is the obvious trend here--but remember, not everybody needs access to a 3d printer. Your patrons might prefer a music studio, a community garden, or the Adobe Creative Suite. Ask them, and learn the right investments for your library!
2. The library was full of helpful people.
Access to creative materials is a great start, but don't forget that the culture may need to change as well. Everyone in the library has to be excited about seeing patrons succeed in their endeavors--whether that's finding a job, inventing a product, writing a book, or creating a work of art. Hire just one artist who likes to teach, and see what it does for your community.
3. I never would have learned about ____ if it wasn't for the library.
People enjoy browsing shelves because they might discover something new. Train your staff on Khan Academy, Coursera, and other MOOCs. Put together temporary exhibits on spontaneous topics. Find exotic things happening in your community, and invite participants to host one of their meetings at the library.
The old nostalgia was specific to a certain stage of life or behavior. People grow out of storytime, and don't come back until they're bringing their kids. People don't wander shelves unless they have time to read. But the new nostalgia should appeal to anyone. After all, why ever leave an institution that is helping you to become the best version of yourself? In fact, the best "new nostalgia" for the library is no nostalgia at all. It's patrons who stay engaged year after year.
Let's go from fond memories to great experiences.