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What are you thinking?

Notes from Anythink's director

We are the catalyst for innovation in our community.

I was recently part of a discussion about Innovation Pavilions – a company that designs campuses that help companies and entrepreneurs thrive. The presenter was describing the need to bring value to cities through innovation, with goals of attracting millennials, entrepreneurs and corporations, delivering innovative programs and creating a modern-day workforce. He described the components of an Innovation Pavilion campus: a co-working space, makerspace, retail, a 21st century library and a STEM school. I was intrigued that the speaker believed a critical component of innovation was a library – and specifically a 21st century library. That is something I think and talk about often, and I was happily surprised to hear this being discussed in context of creating innovative, supportive communities by business leaders.

What is a 21st century library? For Anythink, our starting point is about supporting the people in our community. We connect people with information in all formats, from books to digital resources to experts in our community. We support the individual’s own learning quest from checking out books to dabbling with ideas, to becoming a master chef, videographer, poet, painter or cabinetmaker. The library is a resource that can help people connect the dots and create their own learning path, whether it be organic or a bit more formal.   

Twenty-first century skills include collaboration, critical thinking, communication and creativity. These skills directly connect with our values. We are a learning organization, and we believe everyone is creative.

Our vision for the next five years: Anythink is the catalyst for innovation in our community.

What does that look like? In some ways, examples of our future are already occurring. Last year, the American Library Association called for proposals to incorporate creative programming in partnership with the recently released Ken Burns documentary on the Vietnam War. Our library was privileged to participate. Our team worked with the General Manager of News at Rocky Mountain PBS, Laura Frank, who interviewed a panel of individuals with experiences and expertise related to the Vietnam War. The panel included Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Neal Ulevich, who is an Anythink Wright Farms customer. The conversation drew more than 100 people, many of them veterans of the Vietnam War. It became clear that evening that people are yearning for opportunities to talk about painful experiences of our past. Anythink is a place where differing points of view are encouraged. The library is a place where it is safe to explore new ideas. This is part of being the town square; people come together for civic engagement, social interaction and information.

Last year, we listened to our community talk about what comprises an optimum quality of life in Adams County. People enjoy the lifestyle of Adams County, the open spaces and the connections between the city and rural. They enjoy the programs at the library and they want more – more cultural offerings, more classes, more children’s programs, more teen programs, more lifelong learning classes for adults. Our community understands that we are in many ways at capacity, and they would like us to find ways to offer more.   

We are working towards Anythink becoming a cultural and learning destination for Colorado. As we move forward, our Anythink Strategic Plan for 2018-2022 is our map for the future success of our library. More importantly, this vision creates opportunities for Anythink to support the success of our community. We are looking forward to working together to make this vision a reality. ■

– Pam Sandlian Smith, Anythink Director

Send your questions or feedback to ithink@anythinklibraries.org or post in the comments below.