Tag Archives: inspiration

The Library is the Hummingbird

The legend of the hummingbird reminds me of all the amazing things libraries do every day to support healthy communities and to empower the citizens within them:

One day, a long time ago in a faraway place, or so the legend goes, there was a huge forest fire raging the countryside. The animals were terrified. They were running around, screaming, crying and helplessly watching the impending disaster.

In the middle of the flames, and above the cowering animals, was a tiny hummingbird busy flying from a small pond to the fire, each time fetching a few drops with its beak to throw on the wild flames. It kept repeating this over and over and over again.

After a while, an old grouchy armadillo, annoyed by this ridiculous useless agitation on the part of the hummingbird, cried out: “Little bird! Don’t be a fool. It is not with those miniscule drops of water one after the other that you are going to put out the fire and save us all!”

The hummingbird replied, “Could be, but I’m going to do my bit.

Let us have a closer look at what kind of drops of water libraries are throwing on the fire.

Libraries (and librarians) make us smarter and stronger – individually and collectively

Libraries are not schools or universities. You do not earn a degree from the library, but libraries are being the hummingbird by supporting lifelong learning on all levels.

Children, young people, and adults who study at the library get the help that might earn them better grades, and people who learn in a more informal way also get the support they need at the library. In the last 12 months 24 million Europeans (most frequently elderly people, members of ethnic minorities, and people from rural areas) used their public libraries to engage in informal learning activities. Libraries open up the world of knowledge and help introduce new ways of viewing life. They encourage thinking and the discussion of ideas. By doing this they make us stronger together.

With more and more information available in the world each day, it is more important than ever to have access to helpful and highly skilled information navigators. Librarians help people find not just “any” information but exactly the “right” information.

Librarians also support people in their job searches. Last year 1.5 million Europeans applied for jobs and 250,000 found jobs using free library internet access. (Now there is an example of our hummingbird throwing a quarter of a million drops of water on the fire.) Some libraries do not just provide access to the net but have job search programs. In the U.S. more than 65% of public libraries provide direct services for job seekers.

Access to free library services saves time and money, spurs economic growth

A 2013 survey of public library services across 18 European countries shows that nearly 100 million Europeans visited their public library, and 14 million used it to access the internet last year. 83% of those using free public library computer and internet services reported a positive impact on their lives – saving time and money, improving skills, gaining access to government services and employment- and health-related resources. Public libraries represent the only source of free internet access for 1.9 million marginalized Europeans.

Sometimes the small drops that the hummingbird throws on the fire have a very big effect. In the state of Maryland 90% of the state’s citizens say public libraries are “a good investment.” More than 40% of the state’s citizens think of public libraries as an economic anchor, potentially attracting “good businesses” to their area, and they are probably right. In South Carolina, the total direct and indirect return on investment for every $1 expended on the state’s public libraries by state and local governments is $4.48 – almost 350%.

There are lots of good reasons Americans go to school, public and academic libraries nearly three times more often than they go to the movies, and as you can see from this article it is not just the fact that there are more public libraries than McDonald’s. Libraries are simply making people smarter and helping them in their everyday lives.

Libraries connect ideas, information, and people

This is only a little part of all the things libraries are doing. Storytime inspires our kids with the power of great stories and their parents to read aloud, which again helps the children’s language development and makes them better readers. Makerspaces are emerging at libraries worldwide. Oh, and I almost forgot, you can still borrow good reads at your library – in traditional paper form and as e-books.

In other words, by being the hummingbird the library is doing its part to put out the fire by supporting learning and inspiring people to read, experience and think. In lots of different ways libraries empower people around our beautiful planet. Libraries are connecting ideas, information and people, and they are facilitating the development of new knowledge in their communities. I find it a very realistic vision that the fire will be kept in control. LEflag

Image credit:
[Jungle Orchids and Hummingbirds], Martin Johnson Heade, Painting, 1872, digital image, Yale University Art Gallery, http://search.openlibrary.artstor.org/object/AYALEARTIG_10312577805.

References:

This legend of the hummingbird is a rough translation of a French version of the story “La légende du Colibri.” I first heard it at Copenhagen Business School where world renowned chef Claus Meyer told it at a conference: http://sustainablepenang.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/the-legend-of-the-hummingbird/

Additional sources:

The Library Effect

The legend of the hummingbird reminds me of all the amazing things libraries do every day to support healthy communities and to empower the citizens within them:

One day, a long time ago in a faraway place, or so the legend goes, there was a huge forest fire raging the countryside. The animals were terrified. They were running around, screaming, crying and helplessly watching the impending disaster.

In the middle of the flames, and above the cowering animals, was a tiny hummingbird busy flying from a small pond to the fire, each time fetching a few drops with its beak to throw on the wild flames. It kept repeating this over and over and over again.

After a while, an old grouchy armadillo, annoyed by this ridiculous useless agitation on the part of the hummingbird, cried out: “Little bird! Don’t be a fool. It is not with those miniscule drops…

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One day we’ll be in charge

Alma - One day we will be in charge 2013-07-16 15.31.48 by janholmquist
Alma – One day we will be in charge 2013-07-16 15.31.48, a photo by janholmquist on Flickr.

This is one my favorite photos. My daugther Alma found a stone near the Berlin wall – East side gallery on our summer holiday this year – She was sure it was from the remains of the wall. It had a slight blue tone – and she held it to this painting saying she found the spot where it did fit.I took this picture and later I saw the writing on the wall ” One day we will be in charge”… This makes me happy and full of hope. Alma sure does make this world a better place.

Time out of mind

I wrote this about my favorite album for Read Watch Plays topic about re-reading. Can you read an album?

Read Watch Play

Time out of mindFrom the first guitar strums of Love Sick – to the seconds when the voice appears – I get the chills of rereading my favorite album in the world – Time out of mind by Bob Dylan – also it is hard to think of a better title for this months re-read topic – because time should be out of mind when you think about the best of art – music, games, movies or poetry…

The well known story of this album is that Dylan was not satisfied with producer Daniel Lanois sound – I have to disagree on that one, Bob – I absolutely love the sound and the feeling it provides… it is dusty and like the wind turning a bit chill after a warm summer day… and it is a very unique sound too

Sometimes the silence can be like the thunder

Read more: http://www.bobdylan.com/us#ixzz2H3TX73JS

Yet again…

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Why the story of Buy India a Library is (still) important

I am very excited to present with Justin Hoenke at Bibliothekartag 2012 i Hamburg, Germany about a project I love and am very proud to be a part of – Buy India a Library

How to use social media for collaboration, inspiration and changing the world will be some of the tracks of our talk. Including a small how to – and facts about the project and the library in Mysore, India. What can you learn from what we did with this project? That is what we will try to answer.

We did not do it alone but with a little help from our friends: Librarians and library lovers from all over the world. 100 people donated more than 3000 Euros and here it is – The Library:

We did this using social media without ever meeting in person. In fact the first time I will meet one from our team is the day before the presentation when I meet Justin in Hamburg. It is not a rare thing to work remote with people you never met – but to gather a team (Justin, Andromeda, Ned, Jan) and fund a library in another country in two weeks. I’ll say that is really something – and the take away is that when we could do it – you can do it too. It’s hard work but it is possible and it is easier than you think.

Libraries are closing all over the world but we just opened a new one funded by awesome people who know that this library will make a huge difference in a local community in India and give children from Mysore, India an opportunity to get important literacy skills and thereby empowering them to live dignified lifes.

This project is an example of egoless social media. Connections matter and because of the connections we made and facilitated, people from all over the world gave Mysore a physical library. Once more, and I can never say this enough, thank you to all those who donated and those who shared what we did. The library is yours, it is ours but most of all – it is the people in the Mysore community that benefits from this library – Just like it should be.

This library, like any other library, will make it’s community better by sharing, gathering  fascilitating and creating knowledge in it’s community…

It Is a Global Profession… If You Want It to Be

It Is a Global Profession… If You Want It to Be

I am very happy to be able to share my thoughts about global librarianship over at Jessica Olin´s great blog “Letters to a Young Librarian”. I hope you will take the time to visit Jessica´s blog and read my post – Comments very welcome.

Letter from World Libraries


Dear Librarian

Congratulations on joining the team at World Libraries.

We are glad to have you as a part of our world-wide team of library enthusiasts. Your special focus will be to improve your community by sharing and generating knowledge and always contribute to learning.

We also expect you to work for libraries world-wide and to advocate for libraries when you have the possibility. You must implement succesful projects from other libraries when they will make a positive difference in your own community and you must share your projects  so others can do the same.

We expect you to work with relevant organizations in your community to add as much value to as many people as possible in the area you serve. The main focus of our organization is to help and empower people, young and old, with the relevant knowledge and information they need and to inspire them to produce knowledge and works of art and culture. It is also our aim to give people cultural experiences, make relations and  inspire. We meet the citizens where they are in the digital world and in the physical world – and we meet them in their prefered media. Furthermore we speak the language that match their age, level of education and interests.

You are working for libraries at a time when they are more important than ever before. The more information available in the world the more valuable it is to get the right information at the right time. You and your world-wide colleagues are experts in this field. You participate in raising the education level and empowering people everywhere at all levels.

Digital library services are universal. They are supplemented by locally fitted digital and physical library services. That is the way we all make the best libraries in our communities as a team even though we work at very different libraries, types of libraries and in different countries and communities. As a world-wide organization we make people smarter and capable of acting in farming societies, production societies, knowledge societies and experience societies everywhere on our planet.

We offer content in all imaginable kinds of media and we train people in the use of technology and other kinds of literacy. We are happy to add value to information but we also respect and defend People´s right to read what they want and to form their own meanings.

Because we are aware of the importance and the potential you can expect a world-wide information campaign about our organization in the near future.  The campaign will focus on libraries as a modern, innovative and attractive firm: Exclusive – but yet accessible for all.

We are looking forward to working with you in the future. Let´s make the world libraries even better together.

On behalf of World Libraries

Jan Holmquist
@janholmquist

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/loungerie/1470979195/in/photostream/ – by Loungrie http://www.flickr.com/photos/loungerie/

This blog post was original published in Danish as a guest post on Peter Alsbjer´s blog:

3 things that inspired me this week

The Uni

Imagine having the possibility to move the library learning space outdoors to meet the people, creating a place for learning, being inspired and making connections in the community. That is just some of the things The Uni will make possible.

The Uni is a new kind of shared learning environment, capable of supporting a full schedule of public readings, talks, classes, afterschool programs, workshops, and screenings. The Uni’s books establish the tone and set the stage for a variety of street-level learning experiences, from language classes to documentary films to hands-on demonstrations.
theuniproject.org 

I think it is impossible not to be inspired by this but go to the website and see for yourself and learn more about this great project. You can help fund the project if you want, but looking and learning is free.

How did the Uni inspire me: We are constantly looking for ways to connect with the community by bringing the library where the people are. The design makes an open outdoor space for learning and connecting. It’s an opportunity to make “instant library”. I want that! I can imagine it moving from city to city or from country to country promoting libraries by being awesome.

Thank You Nate – for sharing

How to spread the word – TEDx Buenos Aires

How it inspired me: This got me asking the questions: We try to reach non-users of the library all the time, but are we doing it right? If we invited the taxi drivers or hairdressers of the community to an Info-event at the library, what would be the right way to inspire them to inspire others?

Thank You Sally – for sharing

Compact Living – All You Need in a 258 Square Feet Apartment

How it inspired me: Follow your dreams and ideas… How much stuff do we need in our lives? This guy makes the most out of a few square feet. How will we make the most out of what we have, focus on the important and make inspiring libraries with the many square feet we have?
Also How will we focus on what is important in our lives?

Thank You Meredith – For sharing.