JAMESTOWN – If a library wants to flourish in the 21st century, it needs to transform the way it interacts with its community.
That was the message Tuesday night from Sari Feldman, president of the American Library Association, who was the featured speakers for the 11th annual Murray L. Bob Memorial Lecture at the James Prendergast Library.
Feldman spent an hour talking about why and how libraries should transform in the 21st century, saying it’s less about what libraries have and more about what they do – adding that libraries today need to show the public that they provide valuable services.
“We have to demonstrate that libraries are neither obsolete or simply nice to have,” Feldman said. “We have to demonstrate that libraries are essential. We are essential to education, employment, entrepreneurship, to engagement, and to empowerment. Libraries advance individual opportunity and community progress.”
Feldman also said that there are a number of trends in society that libraries need to be aware of if they want to still be relevant. She said some trends to latch onto are introducing and teaching new technologies, hi-speed digital access, online privacy education, and providing access to large amounts of data. By taking advantage of these trends, libraries can create new services for their community that can result in bringing in and helping a larger number of people.
She also talked about the need for libraries and their communities to be willing to change with the times, saying that they do a disservice to their members when they try to fight change.
“We do ourselves a disservice when we look at libraries as nostalgic throwbacks… as places that should fight change instead of embracing it,” Feldman said. “We appreciate and we recognize the sentimental feelings that libraries have, but we also have to move boldly into the future. The notion that we have to revere only what was, instead of exploring and embracing what might be is nothing short of dangerous to the sustainability of libraries.”
Feldman also answered several questions afterward from the audience, including those that involve fundraising. She said that one of the best ways to make a library self-sustaining is through a library district, which is common in Ohio where she currently resides and works.
Feldman said the American Library Association will be launching a Libraries Transform Campaign later this month in Washington, to raise awareness about the need to transform as well as provide resources to make it possible for libraries across the country.
About 35 people were in attendance for the presentation, including library officials from throughout the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System, along with Jamestown City Council President Greg Rabb.
PRENDERGAST INVITES PUBLIC TO HELP PLAN FOR FUTURE
Residents who want to take a more active role in the direction of the Jamestown’s own Prendergast library may want to attend a couple of meetings in the next few days.
The library board of trustees will hold its monthly voting session Thursday, Oct. 22 at 12:15. During the meeting the board will not only discuss the 2016 budget, but also continue the discussion on what to do with the library’s art collection. The board is considering the possibility of auctioning off a portion of the collection in order to help bring in more annual revenue.
The library will also hold a fundraising meeting at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27. That meeting will discuss ideas proposed recently at a public forum and responses to a follow-up survey.
Both meetings are in the library’s fireplace room and are open to the public.