Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Four Good Results Which Attend From Mingling with Library Users (Number 2 in a series of Library Service tips from 1876)

Samuel Swett Green graduated from Harvard Divinity School and became a known as "the father of library reference work."  His 1876 work "Personal relations between librarians and Readers" was considered ground-breaking then and still has value today.
Of course, too, it will always be necessary for a librarian to extend to readers the hospitalities of his institution.
Among the good results which attend personal intercourse on the part of the librarian with users of popular libraries, the following may be mentioned.
First. If you gain the respect and confidence of readers, and they find you easy to get at and pleasant to talk with, great opportunities are afforded of stimulating the love of study and of directing investigators to the best sources of information.
Second. You find out what books the actual users of the library need, and your judgment improves in regard to the kind of books it is best to add to it. You see what subjects the constituency of the institution are interested in, and what is the degree of simplicity they require in the presentation of knowledge.
Third. One of the best means of making a library popular is to mingle freely with its users, and help them in every way. When this policy is pursued for a series of years in any town, a very large portion of the citizens receive answers to questions, and the conviction spreads through the community that the library is an institution of such beneficent influences that it can not be dispensed with.
Fourth, and last. The collections of books which make up the contents of the circulating departments of our libraries have been provided for the use of persons of differing degrees of refinement and moral susceptibility, and for those who occupy mental planes of various altitudes.
I know some librarians who are all about books, or all about organizing, but a library is more than a book warehouse; it is a social enterprise. The church librarian must connect with the library users to have an effective ministry.  When church library staff  extend the "hospitalities of the institution," they will put into practice I Peter 4

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