Editorial: Keeping libraries relevant

  • Library Information Services Assistant Pamela McBride, left, talks with visitors to the Greenfield Public Library’s Pop-Up Library during the Greenfield Winter Farmers Market at the Discovery School at Four Corners. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Published: 2/25/2020 10:35:30 AM

A generation ago, libraries served as the linchpin of a town’s informational life. Where else could one check out a new book, find the latest vinyl or cassette tape and peruse the day’s edition of the New York Times?

Now, literature can be read on e-readers, music is streamed digitally and newspapers are published online (as well as in print). Information is a finger stroke away — but that doesn’t mean that libraries have become irrelevant.

They just have to work a little harder than they used to.

Keeping up with the rapidly changing times is a challenge faced by librarians everywhere. From “lending libraries” where patrons can check out gardening equipment, air quality monitors and kilowatt meters to free museum passes, libraries come up with some pretty creative ideas to meet the needs of their communities.

Greenfield Public Library’s latest ‘pop-up’ endeavor is another great initiative.

The concept took root at last year’s Franklin County Pride event in Greenfield when the Main Street library set up a table to let people know about the library, what it offers, to obtain a library card and allow patrons a chance to check out a small collection of books.

It was supposed to be a one-time thing, but the response from the community was so positive that Library Information Services Assistant Pamela McBride said the pop-up scheme has become a fixture in the library’s services.

“People visited the table and signed up for library cards. They seemed really happy that we were making it so easy for them,” McBride said. By meeting the community where it’s at, the Pop-Up Library, as it’s now called, offers the library a chance to say, “We are your community library and here’s what we can do for you.”

Since then, the library has set up shop every week at the Greenfield Farmers Market, bringing a curated cache of books and DVDs in addition to other pertinent items like voter registration forms and census material.

We think it’s a great model for modern-day libraries.

Even the fastest internet connection can’t beat face-to-face interaction. And, for promotional purposes, bringing books outside the building is a great way for the Greenfield library to display its local commitment in a concrete way.

By meeting people where they are, Greenfield Public Library is actively showing its relevance in a world where Amazon’s two-day delivery has become the norm and research papers can be conjured immediately on Google Scholar.

Others should take notice.




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