Thursday, April 26, 2007

While my last post focused on technology in libraries, now we will look at the behavior of people in libraries. Earlier this month, several Ridgefield Library staff attended the Connecticut Library Association’s annual conference, where this year’s theme was “Your Library: The Third Place.” The concept of “third places,” a phrase coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg, has become a major focus of thinking about libraries in our communities. By definition locations where we congregate apart from home and school/work (the first and second places), third places encourage and accommodate gathering together, formally or informally, to interact freely and openly as members of the community for civic discourse and social exchange.

In the Ridgefield Library, this can be the young parents who swap childrearing tips while waiting for their youngsters to emerge from story time, or older adults who frequent our several monthly book discussion groups. It also encompasses a broad range of serendipitous conversations between staff and patrons, townspeople who catch up on local news, fellow readers sharing favorite books, seasoned computer users giving a helping hand to an Internet neophyte, art appreciators meeting and talking over the latest exhibit in the Dayton Program Room. From the casual conversation of neighbors who run into each other in the stacks to panel discussions on topics like immigration and global warming, the Library does indeed provide an important and vibrant venue for community discourse. While “Library 2.0” focuses on ways we can join cyberspace conversations in a virtual library, the CLA conference provided many examples of ways to enhance person-to-person communication in a physical community center as part of our mission to be a place that “encourages all to read, to discover, to question, to exchange ideas, to grow.” In the 21st century, libraries and their patrons will learn to thrive in both spheres – join us for the journey!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

While many Ridgefielders were away on vacation last week, some of the Ridgefield Library staff also went out–of-town, but for continuing education opportunities rather than vacation. This week and next we’ll share a little of what we learned.

A couple of us went to a conference entitled Computers and Libraries, where the theme was Beyond Library 2.0: Building Communities, Connections and Strategies. Library 2.0 is the application of the phenomenon known as Web 2.0 to the library setting. Web 2.0 is the catch phrase describing new methods of online communication and information delivery that encourage interactivity, user participation and collaborative creation of content. Wikipedia and Amazon’s reader reviews are two well-known examples, but the possibilities for the use of the myriad new technologies in libraries as well are extensive and exciting.

Would you like to be able to add your reviews and ratings to items in our online library catalog?

Or get an e-mail reminder BEFORE your books are due, helping you to get them back on time?

How about a blog where members of any book group that has read a particular title can post their impressions and discussion questions for other groups to share?

Or perhaps podcasts of author talks or YouTube videos of story times for those who can’t get to the Library for one reason or another?

Welcome to the New Library Lines Blog

Welcome to the first edition of the new Library Lines blog. Here you will find the same articles that you read each week in the Ridgefield Press, but now they will be archived and you will be able to search them by author, topic and date. You can also respond or suggest topics by posting your own comments. Let us know what you think!