Greenwich Free Library
I recently asked the staff to tell me what they like about working here and these are a couple of the things they said:
"What I like: sharing the joys of my garden, hearing the words 'I love this library', greeting everyone, drawing out those quiet ones, learning about computer stuff by helping people with their questions. Being here to offer help, book talk, solace, and just to listen.
This library has the atmosphere more of a cafe than a library...a book cafe! where all are welcome and it can get noisy and also have its quiet times. And sometimes customers complain, but mostly everyone loves it here."
"Just the other day a patron came in to make copies. On her way out I asked how she was. She told me how much she appreciated the library. She had lost her job and didn't have access to the internet so came to the library nearly every day for months. She has since found a new job. She told me that the library gave her so much support and caring -- it was like family."
A couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of these remarks when I went to a meeting at Maria College in Albany. When describing their mission and priorities, hospitality was frequently mentioned. It seemed a bit frivolous in this age of "access" to be talking about something as old-fashioned as making sure there was always a cup of tea on hand. (These being Irish nuns, we're talking actual tea, not metaphorical tea.) But that word, hospitality, kept nudging me, so I finally looked it up and the penny dropped. Merriam-Webster defines hospitality as the "generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests". Hospitality goes beyond cold concepts like tolerance and inclusion. It means serving the people who come in the door in a way that makes them feel seen and cared for.
Being generous and friendly has long been the culture here at the Greenwich Free Library. Having the chance to be helpful to community members and travelers, friends and strangers is satisfying. Feeling like we've been a bright part of their day is what makes this a great place to work, even when there's a really good book waiting at home.