What People Want in Libraries

As the Chicago Public Library’s Charlotte Kim Scholar, I took a tour of several Chicago public library branches yesterday. I spoke with librarians about the trends they are seeing among their patrons. Just a few fascinating findings:
1. People still love games. Hi-tech or low-tech, digital or analogue.
2. Vampire fiction enjoys a cross-cultural audience, cross-generational, but rarely cross gender. It’s a chick lit phenomenon, it seems.
3. Librarians are starting to become the curators of ideas. They can tell a patron the whole cycle of an idea, and bring the patron across a spectrum of formats. “Oh, this started as an essay, then a book, there is a YouTube lecture of the author and a fan blog…”
4. DIY is going cross-ethnic and generational. In a library branch where the patron base is a mix of mostly Latino and Polish, older Polish women with serious knitting and crocheting chops are teaching younger Latinas their tricks.
5. Electronic music is being created in libraries where young RenGen have no other access to the technology. A “Beat for Dummies” class is SRO, and these young composers check out books on rhyming, Saul Williams and Hip-hop to inspire them.

I also wanted to post for those librarians who might stumble on this blog, the video I mentioned about Barack Obama, arguably the most tuned in politician ever to the RenGen movement. In case you have trouble finding it on YouTube, here it is: