There’s a story going around about how a knitting group has been ousted from a library.
Several people have passed this on to me as I happen to not only have a little yarn issue but I have a pretty healthy knitters group here at work. (And in the interest of full disclosure, we’re going on a four month break after today– we’re going to do scrapbooking for a few months. Knitting will resume in January.)
I have a feeling we’re not getting the full story. It’s unclear if the knitting was library sponsored or was an outside group using the space. The Yarn Harlot mentions in today’s post that this is a small branch open only part-time without a lot of programming space or staff. That is a very different space to try and coordinate as opposed to my children’s department, where we have several spaces we could use for programming and I’m fortunate enough to have the time to take ninety minutes out of my schedule to supervise a small group of attendees while other staff is available to help patrons find books/check things in and out/etc. I have a solid group of knitters but not a huge one and that can be both positive and negative in the eyes of those higher up or in the community.
It is always difficult to know what to cut, what to change and what to promote. Libraries have missions and mission statements, with a focus on literacy and information literacy. Most libraries have increasingly restricted budgets and sky-rocketing materials costs, with patrons who think they should never have to wait more than five minutes after a release date for the latest best-seller or block buster movie. It’s a delicate balance of buying copies to meet a need and spending all your money in one place. And trying to make space available to public groups while still having space/time for library programs is an even bigger headache.
I hope the library is successful in being able to create more literary focused programs and events that will appeal to their community. I hope the knitters step up and create a book group. I hope people understand this isn’t about hating a specific craft or punishing anyone but trying to meet their mission and the literacy and information needs of their community. And for that book club may I recommend:
Shall I Knit You a Hat?
by Kate Klise
Chicks with Sticks (Knit Two Together)
by Elizabeth Lenhard
At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much
by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
(Stephanie even has audio books–they might be able to get together and listen to her read!)