Avenues for Collaboration Between Libraries and Serious Leisure Enthusiasts

YAzdan mansourian

My research into the information experiences of serious leisure enthusiasts shows that they often engage in an ongoing learning journey related to their hobbies or amateur activities. Whether learning to play a musical instrument, grow bonsai, or engage in any other hobby. They actively seek, share, produce information and look for various learning opportunities. The motivation behind this relentless quest for knowledge and skill lies in the joy and fulfilment derived from their passions. In this process, they often form close bonds with libraries, which often become their favourite places because they offer resources and space, helping them with their leisure activities.

Photo by Yazdan Mansourian, the 40th anniversary exhibition of the Wagga Wagga Bonsai Society, 30 April – 1 May 2022

However, they sometimes feel disappointed when libraries mostly provide basic and introductory materials about their hobbies, while they need more advanced stuff. For example, bonsai growing is an art with aesthetic principles and sophisticated gardening techniques. Therefore, bonsai growers typically need special information. For instance, they often have detailed information needs, such as methods for pruning to achieve specific shapes and styles or guidance on caring for different bonsai species. They also may need information about soil compositions that work best for various trees. Moreover, they might look for the best techniques for wiring to shape branches in precise ways or tips for presenting their bonsai trees in exhibitions and shows.

In summary, hobbyists have a wide range of interests and information needs, and librarians are experts in providing access to the most relevant and reliable resources. Therefore, if these two groups collaborate, they create an ideal partnership. This collaboration has the potential to enhance the quality of library collections. This synergy benefits both parties and anyone seeking information about their hobbies in the library collection.

Libraries can also host various events related to popular hobbies in their communities, ranging from workshops to expert talks or simply facilitating hobbyist clubs to meet at the library building and use the physical space. These initiatives serve as catalysts for promoting community engagement and foster a sense of belonging among community members. It is another example of the vital role that libraries can play in enhancing the quality of life for people and forming communities of interest.

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