A library is the first place you get to experience the sweetest joys of reading. Growing up my weekly visit to the library would be an opportunity to thoroughly and meticulously go through all the carefully curated new books put out on the display. Handpicked by a librarian with a keen eye for what was hot and trending in the world of child’s literature.
I’ve aged my way through the library system; starting from story times, arts and crafts, book clubs to research and study sessions, and frantic hours of essay writing. Through all this I found that a constant source of comfort in the libraries I visited wasn’t in fact the Dewey Decimal System (riveting though it is), but was in fact the librarians, who are there for every page and step in life.
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“A library without a librarian is a warehouse”
– Susan Schavet, Director of Seabrook Library in New Hampshire, USA
On a chat with, Susan Schavet-Director of Seabrook Library, we began discussing what she feels the role of a librarian is in this day and age. She mentioned the high level of responsibility she feels to meet the needs of the people coming in every day. A library isn’t just a place to store books, librarians aren’t warehouse workers, they are a major community resource. When people come into a library, they want to know more than just about the books. They want to know about the local area, the upcoming events, the best places to be in town.
In Princh’s hometown of Aarhus, Denmark, the largest library, ‘Dokk1’ serves also as a center for innovation, a state archive, a border service, a space to host events… the list goes on. When I first moved to Denmark, that was THE place you went if you had a question that you needed an actual human to answer.
All of this would not be possible without dedicated librarians, willing to work hard at providing an important service.
During the first lockdown of 2020, the challenges of no longer being able to access your library became clear. Where were people going to borrow books? How would people without access to printers, print? Who do you go to when you’re unsure of what to do?
“Princh was a great resource when we had to shut down at the start of the pandemic”
– Susan Schavet
“Princh solves one problem” says Susan, “and lets the librarians get on with all the other important work.” Roadside pickup, online social reading clubs, manning library lines from home, all of this and more was still performed by librarians. As librarians “we are always adapting”, says Susan, and modern problems call for innovative solutions that still give their local community access to all the great resources of a library.
It’s important to remember who keeps the whole system going. As life settles back to normal and libraries open up again, the staff can finally get back to their more normal work – making the library more than just a building with stuff in it.
“The most important asset of any library goes home at night – the library staff.”
– Timothy Healy (Former President of the New York Public Library)
We will be back next week with another interesting article from the library world!
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