Sunday, June 02, 2013

"Library as Place" at Novi Public Library

I have not been to any conferences this year, as I blew my whole travel budget
on one training session for our institutional repository in Berkeley, CA. I wanted to do something small, so I attended the Library as Place workshop coordinated by the Michigan Library Association and held at the Novi Public Library on May 31, 2013.

The sessions were not exactly on Library as Place as I think of it, and the sessions seemed somewhat more appropriate for public libraries, but it was interesting to hear what others are doing, and I especially enjoyed looking at the new Novi library.

The Librarian by
Jim Havens
The keynote speaker was Terry Link from Michigan State University, who has done a lot of things besides being a librarian, including serving as an elected official. He writes a blog called the Possibilitator. His talk on Libraries as the Nexus of Sustainable Communities urged us to look at our values and then work towards making our libraries support those values both in the way we work internally, and in what we provide and teach our patrons. We did an exercise on our personal values in the environmental, economic and social spheres. The kinds of things this group of librarians supported the most were living wages, contributing to the community and organic/local food. At our tables we discussed how we could apply this to our own libraries. At my table we had three academic librarians and we struggled more with how we could apply these values, though the community piece seemed the easiest for all of us to tackle. What I got out of this is that we do need to brainstorm on how we are following our values and in our case our mission. We can say, "Oh, we already support the Learner centered, discovery driven and globally engaged mission of our university" BUT have we really looked at what more we can do to support that mission with our programming.

We are currently offline

The second session was on Business Collaboration, and I was surprised to see Lisa Garcia from WMU presenting on the business outreach center (can't find its official name) and the Michigan Corporate Relations Network. I am not sure what her presentation had to do with library as place, but it was interesting to hear about the different programs and grants they provide the small businesses in our community. Jill Porter from the Traverse Area District Library spoke to the business resources and workshops they now systematically provide to their area small businesses. I liked the fact that they worked closely with the Chamber of Commerce, SCORE, Rotary, etc. If we had more business librarian hours, we could offer more services to our community too. Corey Seeman spoke from the Kresge Business Administration Library at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, where they have 21 (!!!!) employees and can help their students on the complex business questions, as well as community members. They field reference questions from the outside, including from prisoners and other libraries. They are working on a LibGuide with free and MeL databases available to all residents of Michigan. I liked their message and image when chat was not available (above.)

Three Children Reading by
Randolph Rose at main
After lunch we had a session on Makerspaces. Jeff Sturges is in charge of the Mt. Elliot makerspace in a church in the Detroit area, where they provide space and materials for community members to build and repair computers, bikes and many other things. They work with digital media (sound recordings, etc.) and wearables. I just recently read about a bike repair place like this letting kids earn their own bike, after they learn to repair it. This seems like a very worthwhile community project, involving all generations where anyone can be a teacher of a skill - it may be an adult teaching a child to use a tool, or a child teaching an adult to use the computer. Then Steve Teeri from the Detroit Public Library explained the makerspace they created in the teen room of their library, which also has bike repairs, but more crafts including paper crafts, sewing & wearables, knitting, graphic design, robotics and Arduino. Their audience is teens 13-18, they have something going on every day and on Saturdays three workshops or more. This brings in teens, gives them a reason to use library resources, and promotes life long learning. Again, not exactly applicable to our library, but we could be doing more programming in our space - maybe related to book crafts, maybe bringing in people at slow times.

Novi Library Cafe
The last session was on bringing dogs into libraries. The first presenters were from the University of Michigan, where they bring in dogs for 3 days, 3 hours at a time around finals. This has become a very popular thing for students. No advertising is needed - they just announce it once and then the students let each other know. They ask handlers to bring in well trained therapy dogs and explained pitfalls and details to consider. Jamie Vander Broek's title at UM is Learning Librarian and Exhibits & Programming Librarian. Again, we lack staff, but this is a great idea to have someone coordinate different programs for the libraries. Tom Shilts was from the Capital Area District Library and talked about service animals and how important they have been in helping vets and children. Another man was from For Better Independence Assistance Dogs and talked about the differences between service dogs, therapy dogs and facility dogs. He had great stories about how dogs have helped people, whether it is a kid reading books out loud for the first time to a dog, or a vet that finally leaves his room to see the dog in the facility.

Finally, the Novi Library itself. It is only three years old, and looks like they have considered the needs of the community in creating it. It helps that they are located right next to the high school campus, so when school is out, they get a good number of high school students. When you walk in, there is a desk of people to greet you, and a cafe to the right. Past the cafe was the meeting room in which we had our workshop. The lower level has new books, video and audio, and the Fireplace Lounge - a newspaper and magazine reading room. 

Novi Special race car
Children's room
About half of this lower level is devoted to the children's collection, which includes 4 study rooms, a story hour room and activities room. The main room has on display the Novi Special, race car of special importance to the town history. The second floor contains the adult reading room, quiet study room, 5 individual study rooms, teen room (teen fiction and some game consoles), computer lab, and plenty of computers for all to use. The local history room was still under construction, and there was a board room that can be used by community groups. Info (reference) desks on both floors. 

Plants and flowers Life Tiles
by Connie Lunski
Throughout and around the library there is plenty of art and sculpture. The most impressive was a collection of 1,600 ceramic Life Tiles created by local artist. They were displayed throughout the library in groupings by different parts of the world, stories, transportation, plants, etc. I also like the Glass Apples.
Glass Apples by Richard Ritter.

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