My name is Vicky, and I’m a 21st century librarian.  I’m a boundary crosser, with one foot in the world of academic libraries, and the other in the world of public libraries.  Both are exciting learning environments, and crossing borders has led me to discover latent talents that I might never have known that I had.

Paper plates are an unlikely vehicle for literacy.  Yet they symbolize a universe of creative opportunity within the constraints imposed by reduced budgets and other roadblocks.  And they currently form an indispensable part of my teaching toolkit.

How can we design a 21st century library that is a true House of the Muses: a dynamic, interactive learning environment that welcomes and encourages diverse cultures and learning styles? This blog is a container for my musings and experiments.

I was profoundly influenced by the Library of the Future that I visited at the Seattle World’s Fair when I was a child, and the Library of the Future is always out there waiting for us to invent it.  Every library I work in, whether academic or public, becomes a laboratory for exploration.  The threats and opportunities are the much the same.

Budgetary woes put us in a mindset of what we can’t do, but also prod us to imagine what we can do.  I’ve always been inspired by the beauty, whimsy, and economy of designers Charles and Ray Eames and Alexander Girard, who pushed the boundaries of what it meant to be a “designer.”   Charles Eames (in the 1972 film “Design Q & A“) had this to say about design—and constraints:

Q: What are the boundaries of design?
A: What are the boundaries of problems?

Q: Does the creation of design admit constraint?
A. Design depends largely on constraints.

Q: What constraints?
A: The sum of all constraints. Here is one of the few effective keys to the design problem: the ability of the designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible (and) his willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints…each problem has its own peculiar list.

Q: To whom does design address itself: to the greatest number (the masses)? The specialists…the enlightened amateur…a privileged social class?
A: Design addresses itself to the need.

Q: Have you been forced to accept compromises?
A: I don’t remember ever being forced to accept compromises, but I have willingly accepted constraints.