Friday, May 20, 2011

Oh no NOT another Survey!

In this world of polls and surveys it seems that nothing gets done unless the polls show a high favorability rating. Politicians flip-flop on issues because one poll shows strong support for one direction and a week later a new poll favors the opposite direction. If your direction is decided by the whims of many, varied and ever-changing public opinions you will sail in a sea of chaos. Businesses often face this type of dilemma and must often go back to their basic business plans for guidance: why are we in business, what is it we do, and where or how should we expand our services. Sticking to the plan without considering changes or modernizations isn't an optimal way to go either. Consider the coach and buggy companies of the 1800s, a thriving business in their day. Not too much need for buggies these days, as a speciality for a specific market yes, but not as a Fortune 500 performer. Many of the coach and buggy industries changed to designing the interiors and bodies of various automobiles. They evaluated their business and changed with the times. So how does a business or service maintain optimal user satisfaction while not going in ten different directions all headed for failure?

Some basic guidelines to consider:
Know your history - why do libraries exist? What are the basic services they have provided over the years?
How have these services changed through the years? New formats? Emphasis on collections? Audiences? When fiction books were first introduced into public library collections a hue and cry went up - librarians felt they had a moral obligation to provide educational materials, not sleazy fiction!! Was the cry any less loud when DVDs, and contemporary music CDs were introduced into the collections!? And now computer games - WHAT gaming in libraries - NO!! Oh yeah, gaming in libraries - bring that and more into our world!
What relevant services should we be offering our public? Some librarians still want to produce buggies and some want to branch out adding coffee shops, while others wouldn't mind becoming a local WAWA - get your books and gas up at the same time! Or even worse let's pretend we are bookstores and totally negate the information organization and retrieval principles and values that we have refined over the years.

How did you answer the earlier Question: What is our basic service?
In my opinion libraries open the doors of possibilities and life long learning to the world of people we serve. We do it within dwindling budget constraints and with competing industries that also provide what used to be our own little niche of knowledge.

Survey time!
  • How would you define a modern library?
  • List the top five services we should provide for our customers.
  • How should technology impact and change the services we provide?
  • Describe an innovative way libraries could capitalize on new technologies
  • What advertising and marketing campaign would move us from the libraries of old to being the hot new APP in town? Imagine having a AD campaign with the astronauts using their mobile library APP to research sun spot data while in space!! Libraries to infinity and beyond !!
Basic questions with no easy answers, but questions we must ask.  What makes us more valuable than bookstores and what makes us more complete than simply being a search engine on a computer? Until we can provide answers to these questions we will be floundering and irrelevant to the world of ideas and knowledge.

And remember ideas without actions are useless.  Individual librarians will be the catalyst of change.  As more librarians add their voices to OUR future and the future of all libraries we will improve as a profession.  To remain silent is to cease to exist.  OUR choice.

1 comment:

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My Journey from Libary 1.0 thinking to Library 2.0 action!

This will be a new beginning as I explore with you the concepts of Library 2.0 and how it can and should impact the way resources are cataloged!

Cataloging is...
Access to information
The structure that makes things findable
The keyring that holds all the keys together
The right tool for finding information