Monthly Archives: October 2012

IMLS Is Looking Ahead For 21st Century Libraries


The Institute of Museum and Library Services provides significant financial assistance to libraries of all kinds through their Grants To State Library Administrative Agencies program. As such, IMLS is one federal agency that benefits our profession immensely and to whom we can look for useful guidance.

In her Blog post of October 17, 2012, IMLS Director Susan Hildreth provides more significant assistance for Looking Ahead.


October 1st is the start of the new year for federal agencies. At IMLS we are looking at the past year’s accomplishments and planning for the future. Last year we made 701 grants and awards totaling more than $215,000,000 for activities that will strengthen library and museum services in thousands of communities all across the country. Through close consultation with state libraries and more than 590 museum and library professionals who have served as grant reviewers, we are aware of exciting trends that show how libraries and museums are meeting needs for lifelong learning, serving as community anchors, and making collections and content accessible to millions.

Here are some areas where we see libraries and museums making a real difference in their communities:

21st Century Skills: As the skills needed for success in the 21st century change, libraries and museums are creating new opportunities to stay current. IMLS is investing in new models, like our Learning Labs partnership with the MacArthur Foundation, to help us imagine new ways for libraries and museums to support innovation.

Workforce Development: The impact of libraries on workforce development is expanding. We have seen new partnerships take off, making it possible for us to serve citizens better.

Early Learning: Investing in young children and their families and caregivers can make a real difference in opportunities for lifelong success. IMLS announced new grants this year, and will make additional grants next year, to support programs that increase school readiness and provide summer learning opportunities.

Building Digital Success: More than 100 million Americans do not have Internet access at home. We know that lack of digital literacy skills is becoming a major barrier to success in school, on the job, and in the community. IMLS is working to develop new tools and resources to help libraries meet the digital literacy training needs of their communities.

Connecting to Collections: The work of preserving collections held in libraries and museums and providing new ways for people to use, access, and share digital collections is at a turning point. New technology and new collaborations make it possible to share information in unprecedented ways. At the same time, new and challenging issues are surfacing about sharing collections in the digital world. IMLS is supporting conversations and resource development that will help us move forward.

For a government agency, IMLS certainly knows how to cut to the heart of issues and challenges and offer useful solutions.
A huge THANKS to IMLS director and staff for their service to libraries.

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Is This Your 21st Century ‘Library?’


When I came across this article, I was at first shocked, then bewildered, then resigned. Is this what your 21st Century Library has evolved into? Library nurses look after those in need

A slight man with a stethoscope and black medical bag regularly walks through Tucson’s downtown public library, helping patrons with issues that have nothing to do with books.

Daniel Lopez is not a librarian, but one of the nation’s first library nurses. He checks the feet of diabetics, takes blood pressure, gives out condoms and intervenes in medical emergencies.

Lopez is Pima County’s novel answer to a common issue in public libraries across the country – a growing number of patrons living without shelter, health insurance, medical care or computer access. They come to the library looking not only for resources, but also for safety and protection from the elements. The shaky economy and high unemployment have further fueled the need.

In response, some urban libraries have hired child psychologists, social workers and language teachers. Others bring in teachers to help kids with homework. No other public library system in the country is known to employ nurses, says the nation’s largest library association.

My shock was because that library had been transformed into a free clinic. Doesn’t that city have any of those somewhere else? And what is a “library nurse?” Someone who helps an ailing library heal? Apparently not!

My bewilderment was why someone, some public agency decided THAT was THE best solution to their homeless problem.

My resignation was the realization that the Library is a city agency as well, and a city can decide what it wants its library to be. In spite of what a “library” is intended to be.

Isn’t there an appropriate time and place for everything? Is the library really the place to provide free medical care? It is well known that homeless people like to sue libraries for a multitude of reasons regarding violations of their rights. How long before someone sues the library because their right to medical privacy has been violated? AND, if the nurse is employed by the library, what library resources were diverted to pay for that? Collection? Programming? Librarian salaries?

What does your 21st Century Library look like? Maybe we should have DMV offices in the library to make them less dreaded. The DMV that is, but when the library no longer functions as a library maybe they will become dreaded too.

Is this really the extreme to which a library has to resort in order to be relevant to its community?

Apparently so, and with the blessing – nay encouragement – of PLA Past President Marcia Warner. “The national association encourages libraries to create programs for homeless and other disadvantaged patrons because public libraries are about equal access to information for everyone, Warner said.”

I have not read a stretch that far since Rice Krispies were linked to cancer. Creating medical care programs especially for homeless people is necessary for them to have equal access to information? SERIOUSLY? Just walking in the door and asking a librarian for assistance TO INFORMATION isn’t adequate? Anyone who needs assistance accessing information can do that – regardless of their residential status.

Seems to me there is a lot more in this situation than meets the eye, but that is for the citizens of Joel D. Valdez Main Library in downtown Tucson to deal with.

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American Librarianship – 19th vs 21st Century – Literacy


In a previous Post relating to the 1876 Report on PUBLIC LIBRARIES IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA to the Congress by the Bureau of Education, I noted that the prevailing attitude among the profession toward the reading public was that “the librarian has silently, almost unconsciously, gained ascendency over the habits of thought and literary tastes of a multitude of readers, who find in the public library their only means of intellectual improvement.”

On Page 4 of the Report is Benjamin Franklin’s account, from his autobiography, of establishing his subscribers library in Philadelphia.

So few were the readers at that time in Philadelphia, and the majority of us so poor, that I was not able, with great industry, to find more than fifty persons, mostly young tradesmen, willing to pay down for this purpose forty shillings each, and ten shillings per annum. … The institution soon manifested its ability, was imitated by other towns, and in other provinces. The libraries were augmented by donations; reading became fashionable; and our people having no public amusements to divert their attention from study, became better acquainted with books, and in a few years were observed by strangers to be better instructed and more intelligent than people of the same rank generally are in other countries.

In large part Franklin’s description explains the well established foundation of educators’ belief that librarians had the obligation to decide what people should or should not read – that role found validation among the likes of Franklin – still in 1876. Self-education was considered the best education, because it was assumed that if some could benefit from it, everyone could benefit from self improvement through reading. Fortunately, by the time of this report, the concept of “free public education” had taken hold, but the gatekeeper role of the librarian was still strongly entrenched.

In order to show a balance between that attitude and one verging on “service” to the reading public, the following excerpts from the Professorships of Books and Reading chapter should be considered.

CHAPTER IX
PROFESSORSHIPS OF BOOKS AND READING.
I. – BY F. B. PERKINS.
II. – BY WILLIAM MATHEWS, A. M.

I. – ON PROFESSORSHIPS OF BOOKS AND READING.

Page 249
No course of reading, however ideally good, can be exactly adapted to all minds. Every student has his idiosyncrasies, his foibles, his “stond or impediment in the wit,” as Bacon terms it, which must be considered in choosing his reading matter, so that not only his tastes may be in some degree consulted, but “every defect of the mind may have a special receipt.”

A professor of books and reading should be a man of broad and varied culture, with catholic tastes [what would be referred to today as “parochial tastes”], a thorough knowledge of bibliography, especially of critical literature, and much knowledge of men; one who can readily detect the peculiarities of his pupils, and who, in directing their reading, will have constant reference to these as well as to the order of nature and intellectual development. While he may prepare, from time to time, courses of reading on special topics, and especially on those related to the college studies, he will be still more useful in advising the student how to read most advantageously; in what ways to improve the memory; how to keep and use commonplace books; when to make abstracts; and in giving many other hints which books on reading never communicate, and which suggest themselves only to one who has learned after many years of experience and by many painful mistakes the secret of successful study. …
Perhaps one of the greatest services which such a teacher might perform for the undergraduate would be in showing him how to economize his reading – how to transfer or inspirit into his brain the contents of a good book in the briefest time. At this day, the art of reading, or at least one of the arts, is to skip judiciously, – to omit all that does not concern us, while missing nothing that we really need. Some of the best thinkers rarely begin a book at the beginning, but dive right into the middle, read enough to seize the leading idea, dig out the heart of it, and then throw it by. In this way a volume which cost the author five years of toil, they will devour at a night’s sitting, with as much ease as a spider would suck the juices of a fly, leaving the wings and legs in the shape of a preface, appendix, notes, and conclusion, for a boiled joint the next day. [Emphasis added.]

One has to wonder whether this description and exhortation to teach people how to read equates to their concept of “literacy” at the time. It could be argued that teaching the generally under-educated, even uneducated, population how to become more literate was the proper role of the librarian. Recognizing that “The idea of a free public library could hardly find general acceptance until the idea of free public education had become familiar to men’s minds, ….” [Page 1], it seems natural and proper at that time.

How does this translate to our 21st Century? What is our understanding of “literacy” and the librarian’s role in fostering it among the general public? Is it the exclusive role of the school teacher-librarian? Is it also the role of the public, academic and special librarian?

Further reading illustrates the condition of “public education” of the time, and reinforces the “gate keeper” role of the profession even further.

CHAPTER II
SCHOOL AND ASYLUM LIBRARIES
BY THE EDITORS
I – COMMON SCHOOL LIBRARIES

Page 38
A careful study of the history of the school library system in the several States where it has been tried develops the causes of the dangers and failures that have attended it. These may be grouped in two classes: first, defects and frequent changes in legislation; second, incompetence and indifference in the administration of the law. …

First. Defects of legislation: In permitting school districts to raise by tax and expend money for libraries, without providing for State aid, or supervision of the selections of books; in granting State aid without supervision of selections; ….

Page 39
Second. Defects of administration: As shown by the selecting and purchasing unsuitable and often improper and immoral books by trustees unacquainted with, or indifferent to, their merits or demerits; ….

Does this pervasive emphasis on the importance of supervised selection of materials advocate for censorship? Or, does it simply establish the foundation of the state’s and school district’s prerogative to determine the school library’s collection? How different are school vs. public libraries in terms of directors determining what will be available in the collection?

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American Librarianship – 19th vs 21st Century – Youth Services


Odds are most librarians are not aware that library youth services extend back over 125 years. In the 1876 Report on PUBLIC LIBRARIES IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA to the Congress by the Bureau of Education, there is an entire chapter devoted to the subject.

CHAPTER XVIII
PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND THE YOUNG
BY WILLIAM I. FLETCHER,
Assistant Librarian Watkinson Library of Reference

Page 412
What shall the public library do for the young, and how? is a question of acknowledged importance. The remarkable development of “juvenile literature” testifies to the growing importance of this portion of the community in the eyes of book producers, while the character of much of this literature, which is now almost thrust into the hands of youth, is such as to excite grave doubts as to its being of any service, intellectual or moral. In this state of things the public library is looked to by some with hope, and by others with fear, according as its management is apparently such as to draw young readers away from merely frivolous reading, or to make such reading more accessible and encourage them in the use of it; hence the importance of a judicious administration of the library in this regard.

This introduction to the topic, as well as other sections, makes it clear that “juvenile literature” was nearly exploding and easily acquired. Sounds very familiar. The concern expressed in 1876 to addressing this issue also sounds familiar.

Only a few of the most recently established libraries have adopted what seems to be the right solution of this question, by making no restriction whatever as to age. This course recommends itself as the wisest and the most consistent with the idea of the public library on many grounds.
In the first place, age is no criterion of mental condition and capacity. So varying is the date of the awakening of intellectual life, and the rapidity of its progress, that height of stature might almost as well be taken for its measure as length of years.

Page 414
No after efforts can accomplish what is done with ease early in life in the way of forming habits either mental or moral, and if there is any truth in the idea that the public library is not merely a storehouse for the supply of the wants of the reading public, but also and especially an educational institution which shall create wants where they do not exist, then the library ought to bring its influences to bear on the young as early as possible.
Complaints are often made that public libraries foster a taste for light reading, especially among the young. Those who make this complaint too often fail to perceive that the tastes indulged by those who are admitted to the use of the public library at the age of twelve or fourteen [prevailing policy of the time], are the tastes formed in the previous years of exclusion. A slight examination of facts, such as can be furnished by any librarian of experience in a circulating public library, will show how little force there is in this objection.

While there is no mention of “story time,” it appears that simple exposure to reading was considered adequate for the young. As we often see in terms of justification for youth services;

And to the thousand of young people, in whose homes there is none of the atmosphere of culture or of the appliances for it, the public library ought to furnish the means of keeping pace intellectually with the more favored children of homes where good [Page 415] books abound and their subtle influence extends even to those who are too young to read and understand them. If it fails to do this it is hardly a fit adjunct to our school system, whose aim it is to give every man a chance to be the equal of every other man, if he can.

Again, we see how the public library is assumed to be an adjunct to the public education system.

Another issue in public libraries has long been the right to read. How do parents’ rights influence what their children may and may not read? The issue was easily defined in 1876.

Page 415
It is not claimed that the arguments used in support of an age limitation are of no force; but it is believed that they are founded on objections to the admission of the young to library privileges which are good only as against an indiscriminate and not properly regulated admission, and which are not applicable to the extension of the use of the library to the young under such conditions and restrictions as are required by their peculiar circumstances.
For example, the public library ought not to furnish young persons with a means of avoiding parental supervision of their reading. A regulation making the written consent of the parent a prerequisite to the registration of the name of a minor, and the continuance of such consent a condition of the continuance of the privilege, will take from parents all cause for complaint in this regard.

As much as life changes, it remains the same.

And, how long have public and school librarians been encouraged to collaborate? Apparently, since 1876.

Neither should the library be allowed to stand between pupils in school and their studies, as it is often complained that it does. To remove this difficulty, the relations of the library to the school system should be such that teachers should be able to regulate the use of the library by those pupils whose studies are evidently interfered with by their miscellaneous reading. The use of the library would thus be a stimulus to endeavor on the part of pupils who would regard its loss as the probable result of lack of diligence in their studies. [Page 415]

Of course, as was the tendency in 1876, managing societies behavior was considered normal. First regulate, then stimulate.

However, the role of the library was seen as much more regulatory and facilitating the “common good” more so than today.

CHOICE OF BOOKS.
Page 415
But when the doors of the public library are thrown open to the young, and they are recognized as an important class of its patrons, the question comes up, What shall the library furnish to this class in order to meet its wants? If the object of the library is understood to be simply the supplying of the wants of the reading public, and the young are considered as a portion of that public, the question is very easily answered by [Page 416] saying, Give them what they call for that is not positively injurious in its tendency. But if we regard the public library as an educational means rather than a mere clubbing arrangement for the economical supply of reading, just as the gas company is for the supply of artificial light, it becomes of importance, especially with reference to the young, who are the most susceptible to educating influences, that they should receive from the library that which will do them good; and the managers of the library appear not as caterers to a master whose will is the rule as to what shall be furnished, but rather as the trainers of gymnasts who seek to provide that which will be of the greatest service to their men. No doubt both these elements enter into a true conception of the duty of library managers; but when we are regarding especially the young, the latter view comes nearer the truth than the other.

The next to the last sentence – although so run-on and convoluted as to be more confusing than informative – makes it evident that the attitude of the time was toward providing youth service so that youth “should receive from the library that which will do them good; and the managers of the library appear not as caterers to a master whose will is the rule as to what shall be furnished, but rather as the trainers of gymnasts who seek to provide that which will be of the greatest service to their men.” even though they try to demure the issue as one of a good coach rather than dictator.

The understanding of “the common good” was one less hotly debated in 1876, because there was a fairly common understanding of what literature was in the common good, and what youth should be shielded from. Today there is no such common understanding; therefore law regulates what youth will not have access to, at least via the Internet – i.e., CIPA.

While the public library was still struggling with its mission toward youth, it appears they were on the correct track.

In the first place, among the special requirements of the young is this, that the library shall interest and be attractive to them. The attitude of some public libraries toward the young and the uncultivated seems to say to them, “We cannot encourage you in your low state of culture; you must come up to the level of appreciating what is really high toned in literature, or we cannot help you.” The public library being, however, largely if not mainly for the benefit of the uncultivated, must, to a large extent, come down to the level of this class and meet them on common ground. Every library ought to have a large list of good juvenile books, …. [Emphasis added.]

How often have we read and discussed exactly the same issue – making the library interesting and attractive to youth? After over 125 years, we are still addressing the same challenge. Unlike the one nagging question – Why do we need libraries? – which was not a question in 1876.

[Probably more to follow – 1246 page report….]

Addendum:
An enchanted forest has been created in a new school library in a bid to inspire children to read for enjoyment.

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American Librarianship – 19th vs 21st Century


I’ve recently been reading in more depth the PUBLIC LIBRARIES IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 1876 REPORT to the Congress by the Bureau of Education, which was under the Department of the Interior at the time. From Page xxiii of the Introduction, this statement of the purpose of the librarian is very telling of the times and the infancy of professional librarianship in America.
Boston Public Library

Page xxiii
THE STUDY OF LIBRARY SCIENCE.
Considerable space has been devoted, under the title of Professorships of Books and Reading, to the discussion of the question of a new college professorship the duties of which should be to teach students what and how to read. While this would meet the needs of college students, the much larger constituency of the public libraries would still remain, as now, generally dependent on the librarians for advice and direction. Hence, it is clear that the librarian must soon be called upon to assume a distinct position, as something more than a mere custodian of books, and the scientific scope and value of his office be recognized and estimated in a becoming manner. To meet the demands that will be made on him he should be granted opportunities for instruction in all the departments of library science. [Emphasis added.]

On the surface “…something more than a mere custodian of books, and the scientific scope and value of his office be recognized and estimated in a becoming manner.” appears to be totally reasonable regarding the role of the librarian at the time, until one reads the rest of the report and places it in the proper context and inclination toward education. When I say “telling,” it may be obvious from this excerpt that the role of the librarian was esteemed as highly as any teacher, academic or upper class regarding their obligations toward the public they were ‘serving.’ Unfortunately, from reading the vast majority of the Report, it seems that the idea of “service” was not anywhere in the vocabulary of educators, or librarians. In fact, it appears evident that the role of the librarian should be “recognized and estimated in a becoming manner” as all other educators with the obligation to educate the common man.

CHAPTER IX
PROFESSORSHIPS OF BOOKS AND READING.
I. – BY F. B. PERKINS.
II. – BY WILLIAM MATHEWS, A. M.

I. – ON PROFESSORSHIPS OF BOOKS AND READING.
Page 237
We have professorships of agriculture, of physical culture, of political economy, of aesthetics, of mechanics, and so on, every one of them useful and desirable. And in like manner it is in accordance with the spirit of the educational movement of to-day, that we should have professorships of books and reading; for the knowledge of what to read and how to read it is the indispensable completion and finish to any one of the previous or other courses of study in any university or high grade institution of learning. No other department, in fact, could be contrived, so adapted to be the last symmetrizing and polishing process to a complete education.
The tendency to reading for mere amusement should be carefully watched and limited. [Emphasis added.]

While this attitude and approach to librarianship may have been acceptable, or even considered appropriate for students and institutions of the time, it seems clear that the same attitude was held regarding the public librarian toward the general public.

Page xi
THE LIBRARIAN AN EDUCATOR
The influence of the librarian as an educator is rarely estimated by outside observers, and probably seldom fully realized even by himself. Performing his duties independently of direct control as to their details, usually selecting the books that are to be purchased by the library and read by its patrons, often advising individual readers as to a proper course of reading and placing in their hands the books they are to read, and pursuing his own methods of administration generally without reference to those in use elsewhere, the librarian has silently, almost unconsciously, gained ascendency over the habits of thought and literary tastes of a multitude of readers, who find in the public library their only means of intellectual improvement. [Emphasis added.]

Today this seems not only unconscionable, but a bit scary – “the librarian has silently, almost unconsciously, gained ascendency over the habits of thought and literary tastes of a multitude of readers, who find in the public library their only means of intellectual improvement.” As I noted in Curation – A New 21st Century Librarianship Skill? this past April, I believe…

Librarianship has always been about facilitating access to information. While I recognize that information is becoming too vast for the average individual to digest adequately, and that librarians still tend to be the “go to” person for many people seeking information, there is significant danger in the librarian attempting to hold tight to the old “gate keeper” role when they should be acting as facilitators.

There is an inherent tendency among the profession, in America at least possibly stemming from its beginnings here, to think we know more than non-librarians, therefore we are not only entitled but obligated to tell people “what and how to read.” Fortunately, this tendency is becoming less as society and technology progress, because there is too much information to know, and more information than most librarians can handle about how to access it.

[More to follow – it is a very long report – ]

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Library Leadership…


… in the 21st Century.

Now seems like an excellent time to highlight and re-emphasize 21st Century Library – “Rebooted” Into Relevance that highlighted an exceptionally thought provoking article by Scott Corwin, Elisabeth Hartley & Harry Hawkes – “The Library Rebooted” published at Booz & Company website strategy+business.
Because the article contains the authors’ insightful
7 Imperatives for Library Leadership

    1. Rethink the operating model
    2. Understand and respond to user needs
    3. Embrace the concept of continuous innovation
    4. Forge a digital identity
    5. Connect with stakeholders in ways that pure internet companies cannot
    6. Expand the metrics
    7. Be courageous

Let’s seriously consider changing the status quo and make the 21st Century Library relevant again.

1. Rethink the operating model.
Many of the old assumptions about running a library — that the measure of a library’s quality is the size of its book collection, that there’s value in keeping even infrequently loaned books on the shelves, that library staffing decisions shouldn’t be questioned — are outmoded and need to be set aside. This is not to say that libraries will be able to re-create themselves as purely digital, service-oriented organizations; …. But many libraries today, operating in paper and film, haven’t changed some of their operating practices since World War II. Their role as the preservers of recorded history means they have to spend a lot of their resources just maintaining the assets they already have. … They should … explore new ways of serving users more conveniently, effectively, and efficiently. Perhaps they can create an online reservation system that patrons can use for a small fee if they want to have a book waiting for them at the front desk when they arrive. … Such analytically enabled improvements are necessary as libraries come under increasing budgetary pressure.” [Emphasis added.]

From my March 11, 2010 Post The 21st Century Library is More: Business-like: Efficient – “Even with an economic upswing on the horizon, the focus on doing more with less won’t fade away. In fact, some say the paradigm of productivity has changed. Smart companies are moving beyond the basics – empowering top talent to implement creative solutions and finding innovative ways to free up cash and lift operating performance.” Deloitte Development LLC

2. Understand and respond to user needs.
“Libraries have only the most general information about their users — how many of them there are, what they do when they are at the library, and what they borrow. … [Due to] some provisions of legislation enacted after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. … the solution most libraries have settled on — namely, to avoid gathering any detailed information about users’ needs and activities — is far too timid. Libraries should develop advanced capabilities to build aggregated profiles of users, or what retailers call customer segmentation analysis. Who is visiting the library and how often are they coming? What are they doing once they get there? Which books do they borrow most often? Which books never leave the shelves? Which services get used most often; which least? Merchandisers and retailers have tools to help them answer these kinds of questions. Libraries, too, should adapt or create these and similar tools.” [Emphasis added.]

From my March 11, 2010 Post The 21st Century Library is More: Business-like: Marketing Strategy – “The more difficult the economic climate, the greater the imperative to have systems which provide the firm with market focus, the ability to differentiate itself from the competition through innovation, and the processes to manage scarce resources.” United Kingdom Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Supporting innovation services Executive Summary August, 2008.

3. Embrace the concept of continuous innovation.
“This is not the time for libraries to shy away from new strategies. Library executives need to do more than innovate, however. They need to approach the innovation challenge with an entrepreneurial mind-set: test, measure, refine. And if something does not work, they must go through the process again: Test, measure, and refine using new ideas and concepts. The innovation doesn’t have to be of any one type; it can happen across the whole library value chain. For instance, changes might be operational — like the Toronto Library’s use of radio frequency identification (RFID) readers to bring a measure of self-service to the checkout function … Changes might be atmospheric, such as the background music the Seattle Library now pipes into its domed young-adult sections. Finally, there might be changes in format, including the opening of smaller library “outlets” in what is essentially a variation on a theme already being practiced by retailers like Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, and Tesco. Libraries should appropriate the many traffic-building enhancements that retailers are making to their stores.” [Emphasis added.]

(Read my March 11, 2010 Post The 21st Century Library is More: Business-like RE: Innovation, and my August 10, 2011 Post Perpetual Beta – The Real 21st Century Library Model?.)

4. Forge a digital identity.
“Clearly, there is no way that libraries could transform themselves into leading-edge Internet organizations even if they wanted to. Nor should they aspire to that. A great many things are in flux, and a library that goes too far with a digitization initiative today runs the risk of creating data structures that will be incompatible with future standards. But some experimentation is in order. Should libraries let people reserve books remotely, from their home or office? Should they adopt a convenient delivery-to-home model, à la Netflix? Should they make their librarians available at all hours to respond to online inquiries? And to the extent that they do these things, should they (as part of rethinking their operating model) charge for some of these services, as the Toronto Library does with a fee-based custom research service? Finally, should libraries pursue these initiatives alone or in concert with one another?”

(Read my September 30, 2010 Post 21st Century Library Collaboration.)

5. Connect with stakeholders in ways pure Internet companies cannot.
“Libraries can’t provide faster online data retrieval than a search engine, and that’s not where they should try to compete. What they can do, on the community library side, is take advantage of their local strength…. Community library leaders who get out and make connections in the community will successfully transform their institution into a fulcrum for many of the issues and concerns that touch local residents. Their programs, services, and offerings will all be better off as a result of this outreach and connectedness.”

In June 2009 Librarians Matter Blogger Kathryn Greenhill of Australia posted some valuable and intriguing ideas about “Getting deeply local at our libraries”.

6. Expand the metrics.
“… Keeping track of the number of monthly and annual physical visitors … monitoring the number of books … in circulation” must give way to “online-specific metrics … especially as libraries invest more resources in digital initiatives and put bigger parts of their collections online. And it will be important … for the measurements to move beyond the strictly countable … into attitudinal areas like level of engagement and customer satisfaction. … [I]n the bigger context of changes, this resistance to [measure staff performance] should be easy to surmount. Institutions that proactively measure performance, embrace change, and look for ways to serve users will have an easier time getting financial support in an era of reduced public resources and private donations.” [Emphasis added.]

7. Be courageous.
The library “… world has changed — a lot. … the environment in which libraries operate has certainly shifted, and the challenge for those running them is to figure out the evolutionary path they should follow. There is no one answer, which may provide an advantage to those with an appetite for intelligent risk taking. After all, nothing nowadays — nothing at all — is written in stone.”
[Emphasis added.]

It’s far past time that library leaders understand it’s a new world and 21st Century Librarianship is essential to recapturing our relevance to our communities!

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