Meet People Where They Are

It has been a long time since I was in school.  A LONG time.  Once, I was a great student. I would analyze texts and could put my opinions in written or oral form.  I took diligent notes and spent hours on homework.  This is not my approach now.  Not at all.

1To my surprise, that is a good thing. Some students are wary of the educational system at best.  They see libraries as something distant and not for them. When I recently went to an alternative program to meet with young adults, there was audible surprise when I said that I read with my daughter every night. However, one student was so interested in the graphic novel called Yummy: the last days of a Southside shorty that he checked it out right there.  I literally wrote down the information and input it into our electronic database after I returned to the library.

When I asked who used the bus, several of the students raised their hands.  I also asked who had smart phones and saw several hands. So, I talked up the Library’s offerings of streaming audiobooks, movies, and music.  Another person expressed her interest in cooking.  I am bringing cookbooks for next time we meet. The library has things that directly benefit their lives. My job is just to let them know.

No, none of these approaches will foster a love of Jane Austin or Charles Dickens. But bringing GED study books to these young adults and showing them how they can study on our Brainfuse and LearningExpress Library databases makes the Library relevant to them. People who never considered us before now take note. We have something for everyone—including them.

Mandala Marble Wrap Beaded Necklace: by flickr user “starsunflower” at http://www.flickr.com/photos/starsunflower/3574049620/in/photostream/

Mandala Marble Wrap Beaded Necklace: by flickr user “starsunflower” 

I am taking free Mozilla training. As I am starting to learn how to create things on the web, I find that I am drawn to tutorials. I want to DO something instead of being told how to do it. I never thought of myself as an experiential learner, but now I am. How many of our books and online resources have interactive practice tests? How many step-by-step, picture-heavy craft books do we have? When people want to fix cars, where can they find detailed diagrams of their vehicles? Right. The library. We have a plethora of tools for hands-on learners.

Yes, I love reading for fun.  I always am in the midst of a book (or two).  I realize, though, that this isn’t the reality for some of the people we serve. We do still serve them, though. How lucky we are to have the ability to show them that.

Summary:

  1. Remember our non-fiction and electronic resources when serving patrons.
  2. Respect a variety of interests.
  3. Be ready to pair our offerings with the needs of hands-on learners.
  4. The library has something for everyone! Outreach offers a special opportunity to let people who wouldn’t otherwise use the library know that it does cater to them, too.

With book and educator site 2013Anna Francesca Garcia earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas and has worked for almost a decade in public libraries in Nevada and Missouri. In terms of books with practical applications, those about ways to help the planet using the reduce-reuse-recycle methods are favorites for her seven-year-old daughter.

 

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