Some amazing librarian, Katie Johnson, turned storytime into a way to really help low-income families and children get the help they need–medical help, food, education.
This is what I love. This is what I believe.
It’s a trope: libraries can change lives. People say it all the time, and it is wonderful and true, but that is usually centered on being able to provide books and non-judgemental reference services and databases.
But this–this is where we can grow our services in a meaningful way–not by providing the services ourselves, but by connecting people with services. By bringing services to people. We can’t all be mental health professionals, doctors, or special education teachers, but we can do what Katie did, and bring those people in.
In an university library, the needs are quite a bit different, but I see us trying to do similar things. For example I know there is a huge need among the students for better mental health services, and guess where the students are all the time? In the library. Who better to help people figure out what to do next when they are suffering?
Same goes for disabilities. Libraries can totally partner with the Student Disability Services office to help make libraries a comfortable place for students with disabilities. In fact, I see funding potential for projects that could arise from partnerships.
Food. Many students can’t afford food–libraries can partner up with a campus food pantry and ask people to donate food in lieu of fines.
Children. Depending on the campus, there may be a large number of non-traditional students who may have children. What can we do to help them out? I don’t know–but that’s another way of supporting the studies of our students.
Anyway. I’m just brainstorming, because this is the sort of thing I love. Helping people. Making a real difference in their lives.