It’s not your mother’s storytime

Libraries are notorious for stories.  They have storytimes for just about every age group from birth to first grade, they have Reader’s Advisory clerks who help patrons pick out great stories to read, and they hold book clubs that discuss the “great” stories, “modern” stories, and any and all types of “topical” stories.  The library is in the business of sharing stories.

That’s great and all, but it’s Library 2.0, and it’s time to revamp our idea of stories.

Sure Libraries do a great job telling the stories that have already been written, but what about those that exist only as an idea, a memory, a feeling?  We know that the library is so much more than just books, yet we tend to promote books over anything else.  Let’s get the stories off of the pages and help our patrons find them in different mediums.

I’m talking about telling individuals’ stories.

What if we encouraged our patrons to not only consume stories, but create them?  What if we taught them that stories aren’t just written down in words, but acted out in film, explored through video games, depicted in a scrapbook, discussed through blogging?

What if we followed Erik Boekesteijn of the DOK Library Concept Center in Delft, Holland’s advice and:

  • Kept Stories
  • Shared Stories
  • Made Stories

What if we realized that the library has a story?  How would we tell it?  How are we telling our story now?

A great place to start, when figuring out how your library currently tells it’s story is in its signage.  Do you have signs everywhere that prohibit certain activities like eating, drinking, talking on a cell phone, moving the furniture, being loud?  What kind of story does that tell about your library?  Wouldn’t you much rather have signs that say:

  • “Please move the furniture, especially if you are working in a group,”
  • “This floor is the unquiet floor. Feel free to chat, hold a study group, and ask questions,” or
  • “Make yourself at home.  If you need anything, just ask.”

Libraries do a great job at telling stories, and that is a major component of the library that should never go away; t here is something precious and timeless about reading a great book.  However, it’s time to expand our idea of “storytime” to include everything mentioned above.  Use whatever technology you have available to create, create, create.  Collaborate with patrons.  Get staff involved.  Hold storytelling contests.  Host a YouTube night where everyone can share their latest videos with one another.  Make flipbooks with Flickr Photos.  Record music.  Share, share, share.

Librarians 2.0—are you up for the challenge?

Questions to comment on!
What story does your library tell?

  1. Your suggested sign text is wonderful. I’d include: “Please use your devices and phones to access the Web & more while visiting – Let us know if we can help you.”

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