A Library Without Borders

In a completely spontaneous conversation yesterday with a colleague of mine who had no knowledge of my aspirations as it relates to the Ann Arbor District Library Board, I was approached for a favor. The favor was simple, my colleague wanted to borrow my library card. I can honestly say that since I began working at the age of fifteen and until that moment, no one from work had ever asked me to borrow my library card. Curious, I inquired as to what he could possibly need my library card for. As it turned out, earlier in the day he and I had engaged in conversation about music. I shared with him some of my taste, which he felt to be age-inappropriate and surprising. We shared about our experiences as musicians (though to use the term about myself now would need to be done with caution and many grains of salt). I used to play in punk rock and ska bands as a teenager and young adult. He had also played punk rock as a youth. His current interests however, had turned to the manipulation of sound and soundscapes. Our conversation carried on for a good half of an hour if not more. We traded stories of old concerts, some common people we had known, and how we were both standing there ironically as suburban white-collar workers and dads.

Circling back around, the obvious question becomes how any of this has anything to do with my library card. The answer was a true learning experience for me. In preparation to become a trustee of the Ann Arbor District Library, I have consumed everything I can about the library. I have reviewed the current and proposed strategic plans, read annual reports, and combed the website with a fine-toothed comb. I have spent time getting to know the many services provided by AADL. As someone who had previously used the library primarily as a quiet space for work and a place to take the kids, there was a lot to uncover. Here in lies the gap in knowledge that was filled, in enormous detail, by my colleague.

In addition to being a research, cultural, and technological resource to our community, the Ann Arbor District Library houses one of the largest collections of public use guitar pedals in the state. A part of the music collection at the downtown branch, the AADL offers a cornucopia of tools all dedicated to the manipulation of sound. Apparently to the right person with the right musical proclivity, this is a kid-in-a-candy-store scenario. My colleague enlightened me in enormous detail all of the many tools he shared in his own collection or would like to have access to. Access you see was the issue and nature of the favor. He needed my card because my co-worker lives in Grand Blanc wanted free access to the musical candy store in our backyard.

As I continue to really explore the library and all it offers our community, I continue to be impressed by the depth of service, materials, and opportunities offered. AADL is a shining example of an organization that continues to reinvent what a library is and can do for its members. From its social and educational programs to the material resources it affords us, we are truly lucky to have such an amazing institution in our community.