I think daily about why we do what we do here at Camp Verde Community Library.
Most of the time, when asked what we do, I usually say, "I really enjoy what I do," because it's hard to explain to those outside the field the details of what we do in the library all day long.
While liking what we do makes us better at our jobs, it doesn't really explain why we do what we do. I believe one of the things that sets our small library apart from others is the team of people (staff and volunteers) who really love the work they do in this community through the venue of the library. The fact that we like our work is communicated in a welcoming attitude and good customer service because we genuinely enjoy being here and being there for people who walk in the door.
One way that I distill down into a single phrase the many services and types of functions the library brings to our community is to say, "I like to give people hope for the future." Every time we discover or learn something new, it becomes a tool in our box of experiences that has the potential to open our lives to possibilities or opportunities we didn't have or know about before.
Supporting early literacy through story time activities is an obvious and traditional way that libraries help bring hope to people. Children who struggle to read struggle to succeed.
Opening the eyes of teens to possibilities for futures they had not imagined for themselves is another. When teens have dreams for themselves they inspire their elders to leave a legacy that supports those dreams.
Providing life-long learning opportunities to people of all ages has the potential to bring people hope. People engaged in learning and discovery, whether self-taught or through formal settings, remain relevant in their circles.
Creating an environment where people can build meaningful relationships with each other is a subtle, but vitally important way we bring hope to our community. Without meaningful relationships, we shrink and shrivel like the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz.
A less traditional but increasingly meaningful way libraries bring hope to people is by being a 'job help hub.' Providing a computer setup specifically for job searching and applying is one aspect of a job help hub. Free access to online business tools is another. Teaching computer skills in formal classes or at point of contact is still another aspect of a job help hub.
One of our regular patrons who has worked hard at improving her computer skills is Gabriela of Gabriela's Taco Shop. When she first asked for assistance, she didn't know how to use Word, Excel or email. Now she easily makes menus, keeps track of schedules, sends emails with attachments and more. The skills she has learned at the library have helped her run her business more efficiently. Just ask her next time you visit Gabriela's Taco Shop.
Speaking of Job Helps, recently we were given the opportunity to host Yavapai College Regional Economic Development Center's Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Kathy Bazan, Business Analyst with YC SBDC, met with a Camp Verde business owner here at the library. Ms. Bazan will be available at Camp Verde Community Library the first Tuesday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon for one-on-one confidential counseling for small business owners and local entrepreneurs. Camp Verde Community Library is committed to supporting small businesses, entrepreneurs and economic development in the area. We would love to hear any ideas you have that would help us to do this better.
Still, none of the examples I've given really tell you why we do what we do at the library. Each of us who work or volunteer here could probably give dozens of reasons that vary with our personalities, qualities and areas of responsibility. At our recent Dirt Turning ceremony, Reverend John Jenkins talked a bit about the foundational tenants of library services and the freedoms dear to all of us - the freedom to read, write, speak and think for ourselves. The freedom of religion. The freedom to learn, create and enjoy lawful gain. Removing these freedoms can destroy hope. These are the principles that we proud to base our services upon and a big part of why we do what we do at Camp Verde Community Library.