2017 has ended and now is the time for libraries to take a look at their performance from the previous year and find new ways to add more value to their services.
To get more insights about the ways libraries should change in 2018, we have talked with 3 library experts for their insights and advice:
1. Laurinda Thomas, Team Leader, Libraries and Community Spaces – Wellington City Council, New Zealand
I want 2018 to be the year that Libraries put a stake in the ground about what they stand for and stretch their ideas about how we do tha
Hearing other voices in a world of fake news
While “fake news” isn’t a new idea, the awareness of the public about mis- and dis-information is probably at an all-time high. More libraries will step up to the plate on educating people how to be media savvy, break out of their “media silos” to hear other voices, and help people understand how to work and communicate in a digital world that generally tries to reinforce our confirmation bias’ rather than expose us to a range of ideas and experiences.
Elbowing our way into the digital world
Without a doubt, the way we do business now is highly digital, but we have a tendency to stick to the areas that we can easily control and expect people to come to us. We need to shove our way into spaces that we don’t control, but that are open to us. For example, when someone asks Alexa, “where can I get book X”, is the first answer a catalogue search at your library to check if it’s in? If we ask, what can I do with my toddler on a wet day, does it suggest Library Storytime? We can occupy those online spaces, but we need to get ourselves in the way of the action.
Strengthening 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.
The year of asking
A few years ago, I spoke at TEDxWellington. A critical part of developing the talk was to think about what “the ask” is. It’s one thing to put an idea out into the world, but what will you ask people to do differently as a result? We need to take this step in our library advocacy. We need to move beyond the good news story, and into the conversation and the ask. What specific action do you want people to take as a result of the conversation? Start with that in mind. Make 2018 the year of asking.
2. Jane Cowell, Executive Director Information and Engagement at State Library of Queensland, Australia
Video – Video – Video
For library marketing; for extending library programming outside of the library building; for communicating and explaining ‘how to’ in the library, Video is no longer an option for libraries.
The rise of Vloggers, viewing behaviours and how our users learn and consume information will definitely be an impetus for all libraries to move into video production. The technology is easy to use and accessible to library staff and I predict that our customers will start to ask for video marketing and access to Facebook Live streaming options which will, in turn, drive further uptake across the library sector. Don’t believe me? – Here is a blog post regarding video marketing and its rise in use in 2017.
It’s all about the Data
2018 will also be all about library data. Understanding library data and ensuring a culture of openness and sharing of library data is supported by good policies regarding the collecting of personal and collection use data and that privacy and choice is respected will be core competencies.
Understanding metadata and how linked data works across the web, putting good internal protocols in place to ensure good, clean metadata will ensure that it can be used across a number of platforms. Libraries will then be able to support new fields of research such as Digital Scholarship and new communities or practice.
And why would we put all this in place? – To drive greater personalisation for our customers. A good data foundation with open APIs will enable personal library platforms to ensure value adding to the customer library experience.
Libraries as Low Fi Publishers
With the decline of the community and local newspapers, there is an opportunity for libraries to act as local low fi publishers supporting citizen journalism at the local level. This would be in collaboration with the community and partners and the library would act as digital host for the project. This can also extend to local writers. New York Public Library produce a local writers zine. In small towns in the US, libraries host the local online community news blog so this is already happening and there is definitely an opportunity to grow this trend in 2018.
3. Stephen Abram, CEO Federation of Ontario Public Libraries, Canada
Some topics will continue from 2017 and they’re pretty obvious and easy to predict:
– There will be a continuing focus on fake news and the role of librarians.
– Private rights over public rights, including challenges to net neutrality by powerful interests, will increase. Right to know versus the right to be forgotten will stay out of balance.
– Personal Information will continue to be monetized and the public will need more training on the tools to protect themselves.
– Social media and social networking will continue to mutate and connect people with information – good and bad.
Some of these are the BIG PICTURE that move the discussion of librarian values into a territory that is politically important and has an impact globally. These aren’t national or local issues alone and the solutions are international. Hence the role of organizations like the UN and IFLA will increase.
Librarians will continue to struggle with managing hybrid collections. Books aren’t enough but the tools to balance e-books and p-books will increase in importance. The declining importance of DVD’s as they’re replaced by streaming services, along with the death of the CD to streaming is a challenge to our circulation numbers. Our focus on albums when the world has moved to a song-based music economy will challenge us. We continue to lack appropriate access to all titles, all formats, and digital collections.
Online education as a strategic priority will emerge as a top priority
Our digital branches are often more visited than our physical branches and offer many of the same services – with the big exception of programs. With the majority of people becoming familiar with e-learning at school and in the workplace, libraries need to invest in learning content beyond text. Our in-branch programs can be about meta-learning skills to promote the digital branch.
Measurements and Dashboards
As we move past the statistics trap and the focus on monthly and annual reports/analysis, we will struggle with on-demand reporting and using data for management operations. We’ll see an increased emphasis on management dashboards at the product level and an emergent integrated dashboard for reviewing the main pillars of library service. An emphasis using real time numbers will move throughout the organization and not be the sole purview of managers.
The movement of most of our content and technology to the ‘cloud’
This will result in greater platform integration and an opportunity for integrating the ILS with more content, digital discovery tools, and management dashboards, and beyond.
I haven’t forgotten that since we struggle every day pulling pounds from pence. The primary topic of 2018 will continue to be funding and proving the value and impact of libraries. We’ve made a lot of progress in the past few years, but we’re still mostly stuck in a numbers game based on volumes and not measurements of impact and value. We still don’t target our messages and influence high enough or with enough force to be heard. We can now afford a major campaign using social media – but – we need to learn the tools of engagement and not just “tell”.
We will be back next week with another interesting article! Find us on social media via Facebook or Twitter and read the latest developments in libraries from around the world.