What makes a library a library? As per our latest post, there are as many definitions as there are patrons, but their ought to be some components that are always present in every library, right?

It is difficult to formulate what those core components are for every library. However, this week’s guest writer John D. Hayden will provide what he sees as the 3 essential components to his library – and who knows, maybe you too would define these points as the essential parts of your library.

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Walworth Harrison Public Library in Greenville, The resources and services we offer create opportunities for learning, support literacy, and education, and help shape new perspectives and innovation. Our library represents different things for different people, like a mother reading to their child, a gentleman using the study room, a teen playing video games in our Digital Lab, and a homeless person getting warm. We are a hub of knowledge, a community center, a history spotlight, a reference center, a place you belong, a cultural center, and a place of diversity and inclusion. We serve people of every age, income level, location, ethnicity, and physical ability, and provide the full range of information resources needed to live, learn, govern, and work. We provide computers, free Wi-Fi, Hotspots, and connect people to information and other people.

As we look at the library overall, we can see many areas that reflect our mission. We can dive deep into the Children’s programs, Adult Programs, Circulation Services, Technology, Staff, Collection Development, Library Services, Genealogy, and more, but we want to look at the three most essential components of our library.

Library staff – the most important component of the library

The first and the most essential component of our library is the Library Staff. Our staff is all about engaging, empowering, and enriching lives. They are a vital part of our library. They use their talents and skills to engage our community by providing programs and services that are relevant to our community. We have a team that is all about customer service. Every day our staff makes those who walk through our doors feel like they are family, like they belong, and like they matter. When you have a great staff who love their job, they try to go the extra mile to enrich a patron’s life. Our staff is social workers and navigators helping local people figure out the complexities of life, from navigating the health system to helping those with housing needs. This “go-to” role has influenced library programming and events, with libraries providing advice and connections to health, housing, literacy, and other areas. Having staff who produce great programs leads us to the next essential component.

Library programs change and empower lives

The second essential component of our library is our programs. We can’t implement these without the support of our staff. Our staff produces many great programs for all ages, by using their creative hearts and minds. We are about literacy, books, services, and programs. We have programs for all ages that engage the community, including Tween, Teen, Adult, Seniors, Technology, Children, Early Literacy, Homeschooling, and more. We know that our library is about books and more. I truly believe that the programs our staff creates and puts together drive the library. To go even deeper into programs, it is our special events that bring people to the library as well. When people come to a program or an event, they are always spending time checking out books, audiobooks, STEM kits, Manipulatives, and other items. Having these programs are essential to our library. They bring people here who might not go to a library just to check out a book. The books and the programs go hand in hand. We offer outreach programs where we can provide technology training for seniors before bingo at the local senior center to help them stay engaged in a digital world. We provide books to kids at Parks and Recreation events, and we also collaborate with local Homeschool groups. These programs change and empower lives by giving the tools and skills the community needs. They help build the community, promote literacy, and enrich lives. We know programs are vital and essential but there is one more that brings all three together.

Access to Technology provides information resources needed to live

The third essential component of our library is Technology. Our library not only provides access to the ever-changing world of technology, but it provides that for everyone. Technology is an essential component of our library. We provide commuter access, Free Wi-Fi, laptops, chrome books, and even check out Hotspots. During the pandemic, we provided free Wi-Fi outside the library so that people could access it while we were closed. Access to technology is about providing a full range of information resources needed to live, learn, and work. Having computer access for our community helps them look and apply for jobs, create resumes, check e-mail, take tests, play ROBLOX and learn languages.

Not only do we have computer access and Wi-Fi access, but we also provide digital resources from Libby, Simply-E, and databases for our patrons to use. Looking deeper into the technology we have a Digital Literacy Arts Center, called “The Lab” for videoconferencing, podcasting, gaming, webinars, digital art workshops, 3D printing, Glowforge, and more. Technology drives our library through our online card catalog, social media marketing the library, virtual programs, and more.

Considering these three essential components of our library, they all reveal one underlying theme: empowering lives. The final component we cannot leave out is our community. Our library overall is about making a difference in our community by empowering our staff to serve our community through services, programs, and technology. These three components are essential and are intertwined together to make our library relevant in our community.

We will be back next week with another interesting article from the library world!

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John Hayden

John D. Hayden

John D. Hayden is the Library Director at the W. Walworth Harrison Public Library in Greenville, TX. Before coming here John was the Library Director at the Bonham Public Library in Bonham, TX for close to 6 years and prior to that John was the Youth Services Librarian at the W. Walworth Harrison Public Library in Greenville, TX for 3 years. He has been in the library world for over 15 years in both academic and college. John is an active member of the Greenville Kiwanis Club, NETLibs, TLA, PLANT, and ALA. John has four wonderful kids and two dogs. John has two podcasts: Jesus N Sports and Life Experience you can find on Spotify.  He is an avid Kansas Jayhawks fan and enjoys writing about sports, libraries, and life itself.

Follow him on Twitter @JDHayden88;

Email him at jhayden@ci.greenville.tx.us;

Check out his podcast Jesus N Sports and Life Experience

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