Learning, the act of gaining knowledge, is a craft unto itself. It starts with questions - the what ifs, how abouts, whys, . . . leading from the unknown to the known, through inquiry, experimentation, travel, and of course pure accident.

This is about how it happens in my life.

Are you being served?

Recent events in Toronto have significantly raised the profile of Public Libraries in Canada.   Alexandra Yarrow has a great summation of and rebuttal to much of the press over the past few weeks at her blog Only connect.  CBC Radio's interviews with  Moe Hosseini-Ara, with Markham Public Library, and Ken Roberts with Hamilton Public on The Current provide powerful messages about the power of the Library to change lives. And just today Brian Hutchinson  at the National Post weighed in, declaring Public Libraries eclectic and vital.

Indeed, they are, and in ways that can be quantified and enumerated and used to bolster support.

This was Ken Haycock's very essential point in his 2 blog posts on July 25th regarding the brouhaha.  Advocacy that appears self-serving will do more harm than good.  Instead, craft advocacy messages that
  • show an ability to connect with patrons; 
  • are based on data that documents unique value; 
  • result from relationships with decision makers; 
  • reflect an understanding of priorities; 
  • offers solutions, not problems.
Librarianship is about service. The thing about service is that it is never about the one doing the serving.  I would even argue that the best service is the one that is invisible - what you need is there, when you need it, because some one else is anticipating your needs so well.  
It is this kind of service that turns a dining experience - regardless of the food - from merely good to sublime.

Back here in Toronto Councillors themselves have already foregone a salary increase and cut office budgets.   While many will call this purely symbolic, the fact is real dollars are involved, dollars that hopefully will be used in some front line service activity.

I'm not sure any library of any kind can ever achieve that seamless perfect service. Inevitably the choice of one resource denies the possibility of another. I have purchased many books simply because my Library doesn't have them, or has only a single non-lending copy.   I have read yet many more books I did not even know existed because of all the materials my Library did acquire, and it was just there on the shelf waiting for me.
And I think this is where we find the beauty, power and value of Public Libraries - with so much to learn in such a big world, the Public Library brings it down to scale.

Even down to a single shelf:

what do you want to learn? you'll find it @ your library! 
This was taken earlier this summer at S. Walter Stewart. Titles include Project Orion (nuclear explosions 629.4753 DYS), Professional Microsoft Robotics (robotics 629.89 JOH) The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live it (home economics - rural 630 SEY) and Apples to Oysters (cooking, Canadian (630.971 WEB). 

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