Monthly Archives: March 2013

Are libraries clubs?

The blogs I follow often go dormant for a period of time, and then awaken with a post about how that blogger’s life intervened in some way, preventing them from writing. Well, that happened to me as well, so I understand the situation.

However, I’ve been itching to continue exploring my thoughts about librarianship in this forum. And hence, my first post in quite a while.

Sometime in the last month or so, I came across the idea of promoting the library as a club that anyone can join. Apparently, this is not a new idea. But it is new to me, and intriguing enough that I jotted it down as something to think about. After said thinking, my conclusion is that despite sounding like the kind of thing I could get behind, there actually isn’t much reason to do so.

Now, I took a while to come to this conclusion. Throughout my life, I’ve been a member of a large variety of “clubs.” Some were sports teams; many were other kinds of academic extracurricular groups. Yet others were imagined childhood clubs. I loved being part of these groups, sometimes because they were close-knit and often because the shared goal was commendable. So I understand the impulse to equate club with good and then just open it up to everyone so they can all experience that good. Not only does it sound nice, but librarians know that we have something good that we want everyone to experience. So where is the problem?

Perhaps I am just nitpicky, but my problem really comes down to the correct use of a term. In this case, “club.” The definitions and popular understanding of words cannot be ignored. Clubs are thought of as exclusive, or at least limited to a common interest or goal. If a club were to be open to everyone, would it remain a club? As I said above, we already know the benefits of libraries for everyone. So why appropriate a term that in common usage has connotations of limited membership? I can almost see this as an issue of good editing. Why say “library as a club that anyone can join” when I can just say “anyone can join the library”? Or better yet, “the library is for everyone.”