Who Is Your James?
Who Is Your James?
by Jason Falls

There’s always a crowd gathered outside the front door of the Louisville Free Public Library‘s main branch in the morning. Doors open at 9 a.m. but the regulars show up long before. Some talk, some read, some listen to music. A few who have forged friendships laugh about the latest developments in professional wrestling or the NBA playoffs.

Most of the people waiting are anxious to grab a good seat in the computer lab available to anyone who walks through the door. Some want to get online and check their email, send resumes and search for jobs. Others are taking online courses to better themselves. A few are immigrants using the free access to apply for citizenship, learn English online or even navigate the State of Kentucky’s website to figure out how to start their own business.

Main branch of the Louisville Free Public Libr...
Image via Wikipedia

I waited with the crowd recently just to take in the patron perspective. I recently accepted an invitation to serve on the Board of Directors of the Library Foundation and had a 9 a.m. meeting with the Foundation staff, so I waited outside like everyone else.

At precisely 9 a.m., James, a long-time security guard and library fixture, walked through the inner doors and began unlocking the series of exterior ones. Friendly, but firm, he asked everyone to wait until he got the full set of doors unlocked before coming in. Sometimes anxious computer users make mad dashes to get the right machine or their preferred station. James knows a more orderly entry will prevent folks from getting hurt … or mad.

As we began to filter in to the main lobby area between the doors and the front desk, James recited a welcome to the patrons. He said:

“Welcome to the Louisville Free Public Library. We’ve got books, periodicals, computers and more. And here, everybody’s welcome.”

He didn’t say it to anyone in particular, but to everyone in particular all at once. In many ways, James is all the community manager the library needs. He opens the door, welcomes everyone and hangs around in case you need something.

Who is your James?

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