I was away at a library conference in Seattle last week and have come back totally energized and excited about the direction public libraries are taking. The Public Library Association (PLA) Conference was held from Feb. 24 to 28 and drew a record-breaking crowd of 8,500 library staff, exhibitors, authors and guests to the Washington State Convention & Trade Center. Maureen Painter, chief librarian at the Squamish Public Library, came with me and we spent five days talking non-stop about our libraries, bigger and better libraries and how to get there!
When I was paying for my lunch one day, the cashier asked me what kinds of workshops I was taking I replied by saying I had been in a marketing workshop and a technology workshop. He looked rather puzzled and said, "I thought you were at a library conference?" Yes librarians learn about more than just the new books to be published! Like the cashier, you too may be wondering what kind of workshops are offered at a library conference.
The workshops I attended ranged from Marketing at your Library to Staff Development Days to Current Issues in Technology to Building a Sustainable Library. I must say the full day workshop on technology trends in public libraries was absolutely remarkable. We all know that libraries are no longer just quiet places full of books but are vibrant community places that offer videos, compact discs, DVDs, e-books, and Internet access. The libraries of the future (and perhaps the Whistler Public Library!) will have wireless Internet access and a myriad of self-service options for the user (including check-out, returns, request pick-up, and payments). There will be "roaming" reference librarians who will be in the stacks with a laptop and able to help people no matter where they are in the library. You will be able to come in with your laptop, PDA or even your cell phone and use the librarys wireless Internet access.
I also attended a very informative session on building sustainable libraries. Staff and consultants who worked on the Ann Arbor District Library, Malletts Creek Branch (Michigan) summarized the "green" initiatives in the building. The building features solar heating, natural day lighting, a vegetated green roof, convection cooling, naturally captured and filtered storm water, native plants and grasses and many uses of materials that are renewable resources. Their IT (Information Technology) department has developed a sustainable hardware program which includes thin client terminals, LCD monitors, long range disposal plans, use of open source software, to name a few of their "green" initiatives. Their Web site has comprehensive documents on their building program. Check it out at: www.aadl.org and go to Library Building News.
If you would like to know more about the changing role of libraries in the Internet age, join me in attending the Whistler Forums Dialogue Café on Wednesday March 10 th at 7:30 p.m. at Myrtle Philip Community Centre. The topic will be Libraries in the Internet Age.
Our childrens librarian has organized a special program for Saturday, March 20 th from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the library. There will be stories, rhymes, songs and a craft to celebrate Nowruz, the Persian New Year. This is suitable for children ages 3-6 and a caregiver. Please pre-register by calling 604-932-5564.