When I’m not traveling, I work out of my home. This involves lots of video calls and, as my dad called it, “paper work”.  There are certainly good qualities to this (dress shirt on top, jammies on bottom) but there are also times I need to work in a more stimulating environment. And for me, that often means my local library.

    The old library was not a place I could do much more than pick out a book. Today we have a beautiful new library but it took years to come to fruition. There was a vocal group of folks who questioned the purpose for libraries in a tech society. Why would people come when they could get all the information and books they needed online? They couldn’t figure out if there was a new role for an old institution. As much as I love libraries, I couldn’t say I had an answer. But it got built.

    And this is the place I go to do some “paper work”.  On a typical day, I set myself up on one of the worktables or maybe the work couches and in a well-wired building, get to work. I notice during the day many home-office looking folks hanging out. After school the place is full of kids doing homework (believe me I know what not doing homework looks like). Usually the small meetings rooms are full of teams of kids working on assignments. I have used them for meetings with colleagues.

    So it’s not my old library, but rather a community. It’s buzzing during the day with not just the usual suspects – seniors and young kids – but rather what I suspect is a community of home-officed adults.

    Recently, as I walked around the stacks of books, I came upon a young man wearing virtual-reality goggles doing who knows what with others looking on. And nearby was a 3D printer making a reality of someone’s imagination.

    So there is hope for old institutions, but sometimes we need imagination to see them in a new light. How about yours? Is there a new added role for the community in your church or organization? Can you re-imagine how your mission allows you to serve in new ways?

    There are still lots of books in my library. But frankly, I haven’t checked one out yet.

    Bad libraries build collections, good libraries build services, great libraries build communities.” R. David Lankes
    Posted by Thom Peters
    Thom Peters

    Written by Thom Peters

    Thom has held executive positions with YMCAs in Albuquerque, San Jose, Chicago and Milwaukee, allowing him to develop expertise in leadership, group work, strategic planning, volunteerism, and staff development. He has demonstrated a keen ability to listen to and understand an organization’s needs, helping them bridge the gaps between status quo and mission fulfillment.

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