The end of Mr. Rogers’ theme song says it perfectly.
“Won’t you be my neighbor?”
A neighbor is someone you want to get to know, right? I mean, I just moved into a new apartment in North Seattle and as I carried my first box into the elevator, a lady entered pushing a stroller. She said, “Ooh! Are you just moving in? I’m Jennifer. I live on the fourth floor!” and I said, “Yes! I’m moving in. We live on the second floor. Is this your son?” She said, “Yes. Hopefully you won’t hear him screaming all night. Well, welcome!”
[I haven’t heard him screaming and I see them out for walks often. It is so nice to have a neighbor.]
The library is a neighbor. To you and the rest of your community.Think about the library you frequent most often. What’s around it? Parks? Schools? Churches? Banks or pizza places? Who visits it? Are there bus stops nearby? What’s the history of the street its on?
Being a neighbor is an honor. I am honored and delighted to live on the same block as the Lake City branch of the Seattle Public Library System. I stop by on my bike ride home from school to pick up my holds. Last year, Andy Bates, the manager of the Lake City branch spoke to one of my classes. He said that he spent a lot of time getting to know the neighborhood of Lake City when he first started working there. The community invited him to meetings and he went because he knew the library would be a better place for the community if they were able to meet the needs of it.
As I start my final year of studying for my MLIS, I look forward to completing a Directed Fieldwork where I am placed in a library setting and given the responsibility and opportunity to learn about the community and neighborhood the library is a part of. The King County Library System completes Community Studies every year to get to know their neighbors. Click here for more information about them. Essentially, they choose a couple of communities (neighborhoods) where KCLS libraries are located and do an intensive study about the area. They interview users and non-users of the library, look at U.S. Census data, the history of the community, the statistics from the library usage and much more. It takes a few months to compile and then write up the report, but once that’s done, the library has a much better understanding of who its neighbors truly are.
“So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day! Since we’re together, we might as well say, could you be mine, would you be mine, won’t you be…my neighbor?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7M7Tfl3DWwQ
Meet your neighbors. Maybe they’ll warn you that their child screams at night. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to not hear him. At least you were warned.