It can sometimes feel as though public libraries are the whipping boys of the cultural sector. When we hear about library closures and cuts, the demise of the printed book and our impending obsolescence, as people seek out facts on Wikipedia and Google rather than at the public library, it’s hard not to feel a little unloved – dare I say it, unattractive?
But the fact is that public libraries, what they stand for and what they can achieve in communities, has never been more appealing to a certain portion of the population. Tech startups, particularly coding/gaming developers who are pushing the boundaries of narrative and experiential technologies, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE libraries.
Of course it can take them a little while to realise this. They read the same media reports as everyone else and they can have the same preconceptions as any member of the public who may not use libraries all the time –
Don’t you have to be quiet?
Aren’t libraries just for borrowing books?
I already know how to use a computer thanks.
I don’t have kids yet but I’ll keep you in mind.
But then you can remind them about what public libraries are really all about – emancipation, equality of opportunity for all, learning for the love of it, stumbling upon that thing you really love to do, the career you’d like to have or that amazing business idea. Including everyone in society – from homeless people to the comfortably off – a social setting where everyone is welcome. The ideals of open access and active participation in society run through libraries’ DNA – and guess what? They run through the DNA of many of the tech start ups that are sprouting up all over the country.
These people love you but they don’t know it yet. They want you but they just haven’t realised it. You’re that thing they’ve been looking for but didn’t know was out there. If you make it your job to go and find them and let them realise how much they love you you’ll be surprised at the results.
Because when they do realise it, they’ll do practically anything for you.
Loan you some cutting edge tech kit? Sure thing.
Volunteer to run some coding workshops? I thought you’d never ask.
Talk to young kids in the community about how to raise their aspirations and join this new tech revolution? Seriously! Is that even a question?
So get out there and go date some tech start ups – and remember, you’re sexy!
(Image: Library of Love, Nicola Jones)