Monday, February 9, 2009


Having spent decades in community work, in a grey area between education and entertainment, and involving creativity (learning by doing) rather than 'learning by rote' - I really enjoyed this post on The Good Library Blog about a small library in Ireland.

 Follow this link for the whole thing, but I'll offer a few tasters as motivation to click through:

I am very fond of a quotation which I came across a few years ago which says: "even in the smallest town the public library is the institution which is building a sense of local community as we enter this new century."
A librarian wrote in 1876 that we should “receive readers with something of the cordiality displayed by an old-time inn-keeper.”
Up to a few years ago those who ran libraries defined them in their own terms, and defended them by being knowledgeable about books and reading and literacy and learning and local studies. Now the words and concepts of corporate management have swept in. Even people who read and study in libraries are becoming known as clients or customers.
Her role reminds me of the term “Animateur” as used in an old Council of Europe Report which I have to hand. The work of a good animateur affects the totality of life in the community, from town-hall to corner shop, from pub to factory floor. A good community animateur, or an animateur in a library, will enable people to develop resources within themselves - powers of expression, creativity and communication – independent of market and commercial processes.

We need more Animateurs - derived from the Latin word “anima” meaning spirit, breath, life or soul - in our libraries, and less of the sterile language of the corporate world.

1 comment:

Toby said...

I would say the libraries have a very similar 'mission statement' to the BBC:

to educate, inform and entertain.

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