The morning of November thirteenth began with a very positive presentation by Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project. He shared his findings in a presentation entitled ‘The Next Library and the People Who Will Use It.’
In his presentation he mentioned how public libraries have outshone many other sectors of society that he had polled. He pointed out that libraries are appreciated and important to their communities and that librarians are liked by their community members and are recognized for the efforts they have made to meet the tech needs of their communities. These are very positive praises for those of us privileged to work in such an environment.
The results of this survey also informed us as to how we can better serve our communities in the future by addressing their wants and needs. The findings indicate the following wants and needs: 1) creating school/community partnerships; 2) providing early literacy programs; 3) providing separate and comfortable spaces; 4) access to more e-books; 5) providing varied interactive and automated services; and (6) reconfiguration and repurposing of library space to embrace community needs.
Within all his accolades and information he made reference to a report published by the Aspen Society called Rising to the Challenge: Re-envisioning Public Libraries.
The first part of the report lists strategies for a successful library. The strategies listed are: “1) aligning library services in support of community goals, 2) providing access to content in all formats, 3) ensuring the long-term sustainability of public libraries, and 4) cultivating leadership” (Aspen Institute, 2014).
In addition, the report outlined fifteen steps library leaders should undertake.
- The first step is to prioritize the needs of the community. That could mean some drastic and unconventional changes.
- Collaboration needs to take place within all levels of government and with all types of service providers.
- Focus on work skills by partnering with agencies that have that existing focus.
- Engage the community in your library and be part of your community; get to know them and let them get to know you.
- Make as many connections as possible with all types of agencies; don’t try to be the sole provider of a service.
- Create partnerships with other libraries that will help meet the technological and digital demands of the community.
- Support and participate in digitization.
- Use what you have in a different way.
- Negotiate with publishers to get what you need at a reasonable price for your library and a profit for them.
- Offer access to mobile devices.
- Measure the results of the services you provide.
- Communicate the story of your library.
- Demonstrate your strength in the digital realm.
- Change in order to appeal to and draw clientele to the library.
- Make your library known as a place for learning and development.
Both the keynote address and additional material indicate that libraries are relevant to our stakeholders. It is up to us to ensure that we continue to remain relevant by implementing best practices in our libraries and meeting the needs of our communities.