Librarian Reinvents Herself With A Dash Of New Tech, A Flash Of Harry Potter

By Johanna Willett
The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson.

Lisa Waite Bunker, a social media librarian for Pima County Public Library, owes much of her tech-savvy to a bit of magic.

In fact, you might even call Harry Potter her teacher.

Bunker, a devoted fan of the fantasy book series, had a growing interest in hand coding and graphic design when she discovered the online community of Potter fans.

In a “fandom” with a heavy teen presence, Bunker, now 55, watched “younger people online who were making it up as they went along,” she says. “They would do anything that would delight the fandom. They were willing to experiment, and it taught me to be somewhat fearless with trying new technologies.”

A librarian (and double for Hufflepuff’s Professor Pomona Sprout), Bunker finds that spirit of exploration handy, as her workplace grapples with the role of the library in a modern community.

No longer just a place to find books, discs or magazines, the library now deals online and in person, positioning itself as a gathering place for community creativity.

“When I think of libraries, you know, I have somewhat the same reaction as when I go into Home Depot or Michaels,” she says. “It’s walking into a place that is full of possibilities, and to some extent the possibilities are what is changing.”

Rather than just offer physical media to consume, the library can increasingly drive innovation by hosting community forums or teaching professional skills, she says.

“We will always have books,” she adds. “I don’t care what they say … I’m sorry, they are not going away. But some of the things that we are doing are really exciting.”

Bunker believes the digital age can be a golden one for libraries — and if she has anything to say about it, it will be.

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