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This is a guest blog post written by Mark Gilman from the Dallas Public Library, one of the largest public library facilities in the country.
The J. Erik Jonsson Central Library is about a lot more than just books. We are made up of nine floors, organized around subject areas like fine arts and humanities, business and technology, social sciences and genealogy.
We offer one of the most extensive children’s collections in the region. Our Dallas History and Archives division, which is set to reopen soon in a newly renovated space, preserves a vast amount of local history in a variety of formats available nowhere else, including a collection of historic photographs with prints available for purchase.
Each floor houses passionate subject specialist staff whose focus is increasingly shifting towards engaging with the community, creating spaces for informal learning, and fostering various forms of literacy through initiatives like our partnership with the City’s Office of Economic Development, The Dallas B.R.A.I.N. (Business & Information Resource Center) which promotes entrepreneurial literacy, or our Patent & Trademark Resource Center (a partnership with the USPTO). In the evenings we’ve been known to host open mic nights, improv classes, and workshops on urban biking.
PARK(ing) Day Dallas calls out to us because the Library understands the importance of whimsy.
It understands sharing—arguably, collaborative consumption was invented by libraries. We also understand that the world is changing rapidly. Individuals and groups are striving toward greater well-being and wholeness and we want to be a partner in that process.
Our participation in this event provides an opportunity to underscore our commitments to those values.
We had an amazing time participating in last year’s PARK(ing) Day. We relished the opportunity to get outside the walls of our building and have some great conversations with people!
Once again, we want to remind folks that we are here and we are of the present and the future. Collaboration is in our institutional DNA. We want to be a part of the lives of people who live and work in our immediate neighborhood, which is basically downtown and all that adjoins it.
Our PARK(ing) Day team, which draws from all Central Library units will use old-style wooden book trucks to provide a protective border and to define our space. We will have free books, coloring, a caricature artist, seeds from our seed library—and more—plus a deeply welcoming staff who want to talk with you about your interests and passions and possibly help you with problem-solving, which is pretty much our specialty, as reference library staff.
Our resources—now including over a hundred licensed databases like Lynda.com, DemographicsNow, ReferenceUSA and ESRI Arc Desktop— are pretty deep, going way beyond what Google can provide.
Our curatorial function has not changed. What’s emerging is our focus on promoting a broadly defined conception of literacy, stepping up our game around community engagement, and providing structures to help people improve their lives.
We need our community to be a part of the process, as we transform in response to a rapidly changing world so we can’t wait to see you at PARK(ing) Day Dallas 2016!