The future of libraries has become a topic on everyone’s agenda in the library world. Although libraries are somehow influenced by the same trends worldwide, each library sings a different tune, adapted to their user community’s needs.
Thus, it is difficult for library professionals to define a clear-cut future for libraries as there is no single blueprint to the future that applies to all libraries.
With the Princh Blog, we aim to offer you new perspectives and insights from libraries experts to help you in our activity. But at the same time, we strive to learn more about you – our reader – and your challenges in your path to defining your future of libraries.
For this, we’ve added a new feature to our blog posts; polls and questions. This way, whenever we find an interesting question for you, you’ll find a new poll on our blog. (So, don’t forget to revisit our blog from time to time to see the results. Or follow us on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll remind you).
Last week’s poll results: Transitioning towards a more community-focused library
Last week, as a start point, we asked you to pick the single most important element that you think will ensure the future success of libraries. Was it more funding, maintaining or improving the library staff’s educational level or transitioning towards a more community-focused library?
We know, you would have preferred more options to choose from. But we wanted to know what you think is the decisive factor that will change the way libraries function in the future.
The poll results revealed that the vast majority of respondents believe that the most important element that will ensure the future success of libraries is the transition towards a more community-focused library.
Lack of funding is a source of discontent in libraries everywhere especially since libraries are closing because of it. But is funding enough to ensure the future success of libraries?
The experience economy is a new content developed in the economy world, according to which organization make the transition from selling services to selling experiences. As users now seek new experiences and desire to spend quality time at the library, libraries will need to create experiences for the users and not only offer services.
Therefore, libraries have the potential to become an all-in-one space for education, entertainment, escape and creativity. As highlighted by Faith Brautigam in a post on the Public Libraries Online publication, libraries compete for people’s time, attention, and goodwill every day, and we are much more likely to be successful if we understand what society values.
The four realms of an experince (hbr.org)
6 reasons why transitioning towards a more community-focused library will ensure the future success of libraries – directly from library experts
1. Libraries have always been defined by people and their needs
When thinking about the collective identity crises librarians have been enduring, no matter how you spin it, we’re all saying the same thing – it’s about the people. We are defined by the people and people’s needs are changing! This is not a shocking revelation and it seems obvious to all.
Pamela Benjamin, TRAILS Coordinator at Montana State University Library
2. The library identity crisis is just a transition phase as the definition of the library is changing
The Library Identity Crisis is what happens in the transition from libraries focusing on collections and transactions (lending books and so on) to libraries focusing on building relationships with library users as well as empowering the community itself by building relationships with the civil society.
Peter Alsbjer, Regional Library Director at Örebro County Libraries in Sweden
3. Libraries are strengthening the community wellbeing
There were times when 2017 felt like an onslaught against tolerance, diversity and inclusion. We have a crucial role to play in helping our community members in the face of that onslaught. Whether by being a place where people can take a mental break, strengthening knowledge, providing the information needed to fight back, or by being the allies they need us to be, libraries have a role to play.
Laurinda Thomas, Team Leader, Libraries and Community Spaces – Wellington City Council, New Zealand
4. As we move to everything digital, people will need human interaction
The more we use technology, the more we need meaningful face-to-face interactions to create a more familiar landscape. You find that at the library. You also find other people with knowledge and the same interests as you. This supports communities that learn together thereby strengthening the community even more.
Jan Holmquist, Assistant Library Director at Guldborgsund Libraries in Denmark
5. Partnerships with local community members will ensure funding
In Denmark, there are various good examples of partnerships between libraries and other public entities or organizations from the civic society. At DOKK1 we have more than 130 registered partnerships. The process is simple: the partner will bring in an activity, the library will provide space, promote the activity (often via social media) and give help with logistics. About 60% of our programs are either done entirely or partly by our partners.
Rolf Hapel, former Director of Citizens’ Services and Libraries at DOKK1
6. The librarian profession will be appreciated at its real value
Library staff are the trusted faces of local government and service millions of taxpayers choose to use. Our staff know their communities and are passionate about learning, living and contributing. This puts libraries and librarians in the best position to partner with local governments and agencies to address the needs of communities and our aging population – to become “citizen connectors”.
Liz McGettigan, Director of Digital Library and Cultural Experiences SOLUS UK
Did you agree with the poll’s results? If not, let us know in the coments what element you think will ensure the future success of libraries.
Take a few moments to answer our next question:
We will be back next week with another interesting article from the library world!