Monday, April 18, 2005

Library services by students, for students

Pat Wagner of Pattern Research, Inc. suggests an innovative way to market libraries to students by inviting them to be active players behind the scenes. By allowing students to take part in important decisions, they become stakeholders and have a personal interest in the welfare of the library. As Pat describes:

Every time a library allows a library user the ability to make a significant decision, execute a plan, run a program or in other way be in control - real partnerships - the closer they are to this idea. Small examples - the Scottsbluff Nebraska Library's teen board chooses the programs and runs them for other teens. So 17 year olds are delivering programs for 17 year olds. Attendance skyrocketed. Farmington Public Library taught young people from the tribal nations to run reading centers - in effect, the teens are running the "libraries" on the reservation.

This kind of intiative may not work at every library. Pat points out that giving students more control means that librarians will need to give up give up some of it, and that requires an organization that is flexible and willing to take risks.

Please share your experiences with giving students the reigns!

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