Tuesday, June 4, 2013

If I Were King of the Library, The 5th Decree

I was planning for my next decree to address hiring issues, but I wanted to go with just one more little library within a library before we get to more weighty, anarchist inspired structural matters. This is my third library within the library. It follows after The Staff Picks Library (here) and The Local Library (here), and I think it's easy for me to imagine all these mini libraries because I am working in a fairly large and spread out space. But even if I were anointed King of a library of more modest size I think none of these little libraries of mine are very large, and they could all make agreeable nooks or free standing sections with small footprints. My library spends a good deal of floor space on large themed cubes that sometimes seem more impression oriented than content oriented, which is my way of saying that we made places for groups of books and now unenthusiastically fill them with stuff. So instead of having, say, a two month display of  "Biographies" or "Mysteries you might have missed that some librarian pulled off the shelves randomly" (I really wish the sign said that!) there instead would be intricate, intentional, interesting featured collections.

What I am now mandating as an addition to this will be called The Useful, Strange, and Interesting Things Library. As odd as it sounds at first this has more precedent in our nation's libraries than you might think. My system has checked out painting and sculpture reproductions in the past. AV equipment was not unheard of in the olden days. We currently check out bike locks and energy meters, and I know of libraries that will check out telescopes, dogs, tools, seeds (yes, plant them, grow them, harvest, and return new seeds at end of season!), cake pans and people (yep, it's called the living library and started in Copenhagen, it's about exposing you to different kinds of people). The only thing I don't commonly see is a tying together of a variety of these things in one place, thus my USIT Library (I made an acronym!). Here's how it will work:

1. Because this will not be a large collection we will not be unduly concerned with unconventional sizes of items. If we only have 30 or 40 or 50 things here we can handle a bike or a really nice sled or a banana tree or whatever.

2. I'm thinking something like a $25 to $350 spending range for items. I'm sure you could get a unicycle for that, or juggling clubs, or an incredibly nice piece of jewelry from etsy.

3. These are one off things and can have their own distinct checkout periods, late fees, return processes, and grouped elements.

4. This gets a committee too (like the local library did). The committee is made up of randomly chosen volunteers from staff and regular volunteers. They can buy however they want within their annual budget, majority rules. I would even encourage buying used if it helps stretch our dollars. They can also solicit donations. They are responsible for maintaining the health of the collection.

5. As this library has an actual acronym (USIT) we will be going rather more in the direction of supporting use and towards weeding unused things than we might with some of the regular collection. Nevertheless, experimentation, variety, and lower levels of technology (tech is okay, just, I want to counter it's easy appeal in this situation) are strongly encouraged in the buying process.

So it is decreed this day, etc. etc. 

The King

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