Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Future of Public Libraries is Twitter?

Last night I attended a program at the East Lyme (CT) Public Library about the future of public libraries presented by John and Louise Berry. John Berry is the former editor of Library Journal (now editor-at-large) and his wife Louise is the Executive Director of the Darien (CT) Library, ranked as one of the top 10 public libraries in the country for its size, according to Hennen's American Public Library Rating. Much of the discussion was about familiar topics: the challenges of funding public libraries, which are busier than ever, in the midst of economic chaos, and the uncertainty posed by rapid technological changes. I was pleased to hear Louise mention customer service, reader's advisory, children’s services, community and cultural programming, and the idea of the library as a “Great Good Place”* as keys to the Darien Library’s success, as these are things the Lyme Public Library already strives to provide and will be able to do even more successfully in a planned new building. I was surprised (and delighted), though, to hear Louise say something to the effect that the future of public libraries is Twitter! The Lyme Public Library has had a Twitter account for several years, and I am always telling people how much I love Twitter but am usually greeted with blank stares or the comment that they don’t get it. Louise went on to talk about Twitter as a tool to engage the community, as a great reference source for local, community information, and as a way to encourage and foster reading through ideas such as #fridayreads.** If you’re curious or interested, why not open a Twitter account and follow us at @lymepl. You’ll get all the latest library news as well as links to interesting articles about authors, books, reading, and libraries, and you can find out what everyone is reading on #fridayreads. Give it a try!

*This idea comes from the book The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community by Ray Oldenburg. He defines the concept as safe, comfortable community gathering places.

**#fridayreads #FridayReads is a hashtag on Twitter. Every Friday, thousands of people post what they are reading with the FridayReads hashtag (#fridayreads) Find out more by visiting http://fridayreads.com/about/