Thursday, March 16, 2017

Libraries Are For Everyone

Libraries are for everyone--diverse people holding globes
One in a series of images by librarian blogger Hafuboti
Does this image look familiar to you? It was developed for a library legislative day in Arkansas, and has gained a lot of attention on the Internet from librarian blogger and image creator Hafuboti. This image, which is one in a series of free images, pays homage to the traditional library sign with a right view profile of a library user consulting an information source. However, unlike the original icon, the information source is not a print book, but rather a multi-hemispheric globe. In addition, the library users depicted in the series are reflective of the heterogeneous communities in which libraries are embedded.

Imagine the delight and inspiration that these images provided to the group of Wisconsin library and system staff gathered for the DPI-sponsored "Inclusive Services Retreat." The debut of this series aligned perfectly with the two-day retreat that I convened in February. The focus of this intense and intimate working meeting was to delve into the concept of inclusion and its role in the services of Wisconsin public libraries, regional library systems, and the state library agency (DPI).

As discussed in 2 previous blog posts, What Does It Mean to Be Inclusive? and For Whom Library
Libraries are for Everyone image with lettering in American Sign Language
Libraries are for Everyone in ASL
Use is Difficult, Limited, or Minimized, the Public Library Development Team is actively considering resources, communications, and consulting efforts related to inclusive services. The retreat was an opportunity to bring together library and system staff with a vested interest in redefining what it means to accommodate the needs, interests, and lives of underserved and/or under recognized individuals and groups. Retreat discussions and activities explored all levels of library service; e.g., collections, customer service, policies, and marketing as well as numerous aspects of perception and equity; e.g., poverty, race, entitlement, and actual/assumed needs of users. Areas of growth and continued exploration include continuing education, assessment tools, and standards and guidelines.

In the coming months and years, you can expect to see professional learning and sharing opportunities related to inclusive services on multiple fronts. In the meantime, I urge you to consider how you know, or don't know, that your library is for everyone.

I would also like to publicly thank the retreat participants who helped guide the initial direction that inclusive services in Wisconsin libraries will take. My deep appreciation, in alphabetical order, goes out to:
  • Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System
  • Bruce Gay, Milwaukee County Federated Library System
  • Sharon Grover, Arrowhead Library System
  • Lara Lakari, Stephenson Public Library (Marinette)
  • Leah Langby, Indianhead Federated Library System
  • Sherry Machones, Northern Waters Library Service
  • Angela Meyers, Bridges Library System
  • Jill Miatech, Kenosha Public Library
  • Becky Petersen, Manitowoc-Calumet Library System
  • Marcia Sarnowski, Winding Rivers Library System
  • Shannon Schultz, Public Library Development Team
  • Joy Schwarz, Winnefox Library System
  • Holly Smith, Monarch Library System
  • Vickie Stangel, Dodgeville Public Library
  • Kris Adams Wendt, Wisconsin Valley Library Service.
Written by:
Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, Public Library Development Team