I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about ways in which libraries could do a better job of living up to their own values and I illustrated some points with examples from Downtown Library and Small Town Library. I don't want you to get the idea that either of those places are bad, or even below average, compared to other libraries, so today I want to tell you about some of the things that make me proud or happy to work at those places. I wrote one about Downtown Library already. Downtown Library was easier because it's part of a big system that, like most big public library systems, tends to conform well to the American Library Association's Code of Ethics. The strengths of libraries like Small Town Library are significant, but ideological purity isn't its strong suit (nor, I suspect, is it the strong suit of most small-town libraries). When you have limited resources and different demands from your community, it doesn't tend to be a priority.
That said, here are some ways in which Small Town Library practices what it preaches:
- Items on the self-serve hold shelf are covered with white paper so that other patrons can't easily see what their neighbors have on hold.
- The library offers study rooms in which patrons can have private conversations, and which library staff could conceivably use for confidential reference interviews (Downtown Library, to my constant annoyance, has cubicle-style study rooms that are roofless and not private at all).
- Privacy screens are offered by default at all public computers for adults.
- The library has held on to Fifty Shades of Grey and similar materials despite patron complaints about the 'inappropriateness' of those titles for a public library.
- Despite an overall chatty atmosphere, staff members very rarely share what a patron was looking for with a coworker unless it's specifically to help meet that patron's needs.
- The library has refused to place rating-based restrictions on what DVDs kids can check out, despite patron requests to do so.