In the summer semester of 2014 I was lucky to take Introduction to Research with Dr. Andrea Copeland through the Library and Information Science department at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Introduction to Research remains one of my favorite graduate school classes and it bolstered my interest in research for public libraries. That’s why I’m turning this space into a combination book/movie blog and discussion board for my project in independent research. Those of you who know me well know that I’ve always had a great passion for reading and for literacy and I’ve always made utilizing the public library system a part of this passion.
Why am I passionate about public libraries? Well, some of my fondest childhood memories take place in public libraries. Every few weeks my family and I would visit our local branch. I remember doing crafts at the library, spending hours just looking at the shelves, and checking out more books than I could carry. It didn’t matter that for a long time we didn’t have a computer at home; I could go to the public library and use the internet for as long as I wanted. I’ve always felt that if I needed information or knowledge I could gain it at the public library and I’ve always felt as though public libraries serve as the great knowledge equalizer in our society.
I believe that library usage is crucial to a successful community and that public libraries serve as a non-traditional educational resource. By providing materials, programming, information, and services to patrons of all ages the public library provides users with the ability learn independently about topics that interest them, or join a community group that shares their passion. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County says it best: “Connecting people with the world of ideas and information” (The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, 2014). To paraphrase the popular Batman movie franchise, I like to say that we should be giving the people not the public library they need, but the public library they deserve.
So, why am I focusing on international librarianship? One of my main regrets from my undergraduate career is not studying abroad. I feel like much can be learned by exploring the world. With modern technology like instant messaging and skype I’m able to have friends that live in different states or even different countries. It doesn’t matter because online communication has made distance almost irrelevant. I’ve realized that as a society, as our social, political and economic environments become more international, it’s important to acknowledge that information seeking behaviors have also turned international. A person seeking information on the internet doesn’t care if it comes from Australia or Japan, as long as it is accurate and answers their question. As such, we as information professionals have to look outside our traditional resources to best assist the people and communities we serve.
My goal is to look at what other libraries are doing around the world so we can collaborate internationally and promote the sharing of ideas, marketing strategies and programs at both served and under-served library populations. By focusing internationally I hope to find solutions that can serve all patrons regardless of where they are located geographically.
Wish me luck! On March 21st, I’m flying to Edinburgh, Scotland to begin my study in International and Comparative Librarianship!