It has long been a goal of mine to develop groups within the library. I don’t just mean book clubs or intellectual groups either. With meetup.com being one way for folks with common interests to meet each other, who says that has to be the only platform?
I see these groups serving two purposes: 1. to bring people into the library by providing space and assistance for programming related to their interest; and 2. to send out a visible representation of the library into town. It would be a way for the library to directly integrate itself into the community by fostering education on topics–such as theater, photography, food or Fantasy sports–as well as encouraging the groups to get out of the building and do something as a library entity.
I’ve been lucky to come into a library with a thriving Write Group. This group has various weekly meetings and all types of monthly events. They also don’t restrict themselves to the library building, but go out into our community to be a “support group” for other writers. They’ve been successful for years and I speak with their leadership often. It’s a perfect example of what I’ve been looking to do.
The main obstacle to starting a group like this is time (isn’t it always?). Having the capacity to oversee a mini-organization isn’t organic. However, once a pattern of group creation and recruitment is developed, I see the potential for each group to be self-run things; provided they still report back to the library, there is no reason not to allow the groups to elect their own leaders and have the freedom to evolve as they want and need. Thankfully, the Write Group has a lot to teach me and will be a great resource as I develop plans and explore the interests of the town.