Friday, February 17, 2012
Thinking Out Loud: Marketing and the Library Lock-In
I have come to think of the library lock-in not from a programming perspective, but from a marketing one. Everything that we do sends a message and we must ask ourselves, what is the take away of this event. To me, I think we can make a fair argument that the library lock-in may be a form of false advertising. You see, we invite teens in when the library is empty and we let them run around (although probably not literally) and yell and scream (also probably not literally) and use the space in a way that they will never get to use the space the remaining 364 days of the year. In fact, if they came into the library any other day they would probably disrupt other library patrons and be reprimanded (although hopefully quite nicely) by staff. A library lock-in is not normal operating procedures and would could argue that it does not help teens understand the role of the public library in the community and appropriate ways to use the library.
Now, for the other side of this coin: I recently had occasion to dialogue with a teen librarian who uses a lock-in as a reward for teens who participate in her winter and later in the year summer reading challenge. She is a pretty awesome librarian. This changed my mind a little bit on my stance. You see these teens, they are regular library users who have come to understand and appreciate the library's role in their life. Here, as a reward, it speaks an entirely different message: you are a valued customer and you get a special moment in a sacred place.
So before you flame me, please remember that I AM a library advocate (please see The 2012 Project for proof). I am an advocate for teens and authors and books and information and intellectual freedom. I'm just not 100% sure that I am an advocate for library lock-ins. So let's talk about it, share what you think in the comments. And for the record, yes - I have done library lock-ins, just not recently.