The more things change…..

Aaron at Walking Paper points to a fabulous speech given by Gratia Alta Countryman, at an address to the Minnesota Library Association. The whole thing is terrific, and I encourage you to read it.

One pithy exerpt:

Many of our libraries are now housed in beautiful buildings, in which case, the building as well as the books becomes a means of social influence. If there is need of a home for social intercourse and amusement, the library may legitimately attempt to furnish such a home within its walls. If there are social or study clubs, organized labor guilds or missionary societies, or any other organizations, encourage them to meet at the library, find out what they need, let them find out that the library is their cooperative partner. And so with the schools and industries, of which I have not time to speak. The whole building at all times should be managed in the broadest spirit of hospitality; the atmosphere should be as gracious, kindly and sympathetic as one’s own home. Then do away with all unnecessary restrictions, take down all the bars, and try to put face to face our friends the books and our friends the people. Introduce them cordially, then stand aside and let them make each other’s blessed acquaintance.

(Emphasis mine.) I love this woman. I wish I could have met her. By the way, did I mention that Ms. Countryman gave this speech in 1905????

It’s becoming apparent that we’ve known for a century how to do things. All the current emphasis on technology is fun and interesting and I really enjoy a great deal of it. But it is really acting as a distraction from the main point:

Serve. The. Customer.

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1 Comment

Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship

One response to “The more things change…..

  1. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

    The external trappings change, but the mission abides.

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