This thread in the Atlas brought up many important ideas about what consists of a community, and what our responsibility is to our communities.
Throughout the thread, Lankes splits up different communities: public, academic, government, special, school and archives. Many people think of all these communities as separate, that one does not really influence the other. Even though I am going into school media, it is important to see the other types of communities at work in other areas– to learn from what they are doing and engage in those conversations of change as well.
Another important point was on page 109 when Lankes discusses what types of questions librarians should be asking to better understand what the community wants. I agree that questions like “How do you use the library?” and “What do you want?” are not helpful, and don’t pinpoint specific needs. Even as a library student, I have no idea how I would answer those questions. What do I want? A completed assignment, a good grade, and an endless supply of coffee. And I don’t really think it would be helpful for a library to take those things into consideration.
I can think of so many times I’ve been asked to do customer service surveys and have gotten questions like, “How would you rate your overall service/experience?”, and “Did we help you today?”. I’m not saying the job of a librarian is a customer service job,far from it, but I do think the questions we are asking about libraries are the library equivalent of a customer service survey. Generic, boring, and does not give specific results.
And the most important thing–no one ever takes customer service surveys seriously.
The questions are generic, and don’t really help the library understand what services the community needs. I found the stories about libraries offering writing centers, and music centers inspiring as it promoted a place where the community could come and interact with their colleagues sharing the same interest. Instead of asking “What do you want?”, libraries should be asking questions like, “Would you participate in a music center? And what are some of the things you would like to have? What do you think it needs?”. I’m not saying these are THE questions people should be asking, but at least multiple part questions that lead to a dialogue. Also, not focusing questions about what people want, but more importantly, what they need in their communities, and how the library can achieve their needs.