Creating a Library Oasis

by Rebecca Kluberdanz, Senior Editor, INALJ MontanaNebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew Jersey,  New Mexico, and Wyoming

Creating a Library Oasis

REBECCA_KLUBERDANZ_NYSThe civil unrest going on in Ferguson, MO right now is no doubt scary but there is one important thing I have learned during all this turmoil. The role of a library can truly never be defined. In the wake of all this destruction the staff of the Ferguson Municipal Public Library stepped up to the challenge and did something beautiful. Scott Bonner, the director of the library, believes he is just doing what libraries ought to do but the truth is not everyone would act this way and I, for one, am proud to be able to call myself a librarian along with him.

The situation is definitely teaching people everywhere the importance of the public library. It serves more than one purpose and can do more than just provide people with a computer and reading material. The library can become a port in a storm. In Ferguson they were able to use the space as a safe haven for families with children during the unrest and not only provided access to the Internet but fed people, entertained them and helped them learn when there was no school being held. They even opened their doors to businesses offering help to preserve records and help with tax information.

A library’s job is truly never done. As librarians we are always hearing a little bit of criticism about what libraries are being used for. There’s Amazon and e-books, why do libraries still exist? Well, the library in Ferguson shows exactly why they exist. Libraries are not only here for books but to help people and make a difference in the community. The library is here to provide any help necessary and Ferguson exemplifies that beautifully.

There’s another important lesson here as well. As a librarian it is important not think of yourself in a vacuum. Your day-to-day roles may change at the drop of a hat and it is important to be flexible. Everything you do is to help your patrons even if that means doing something that was not originally listed in your duties. I am sure that when these people were first employed at the Ferguson Municipal Public Library they did not see themselves feeding people lunch and providing water to protestors being tear-gassed but that is where they are today without complaint. The employees of this library are truly an inspiration they definitely provide a perfect model for the modern librarian.