“Libraries today are like your extra living room,” said Christy Ragle, public relations coordinator for the New Castle-Henry County Public Library. “They’re community centers, meeting places, the places where anyone can go — for free — to hang out.”
This living room metaphor is always a little funny to me because we joke about our library being the living room of the institute we’re a part of. It’s true to a certain degree- we host their functions, let their grad students eat lunch and sleep on the tables, give out free candy, and so on. Is it working? Well, we have a steady stream of people hanging out in our humble digs, but it doesn’t translate to them actually borrowing more material. The only thing I can say that’s good about this change is that it makes our patrons more comfortable with the staff so that they have been more likely to ask for help. Even though they never walk back into the stacks, they still have a sense that they must be important.
So does this mean every library needs to invest in a sofa and coffee table? Ha! It’s good to think about how libraries can integrate themselves in their patrons’ lives without seeming desperate or pandering. It’s a tough line to walk.