Partnerships are So Essential… They Define Us as a Community

Josephine Community Library Oregon

katebyline

We can all agree that community partnerships strengthen the library’s outreach. Executing this tenet is easier said than done.
Regardless, libraries must take the initiative and collaborate with community stakeholders to fill unmet needs, extend their reach, and create positive outcomes. For Josephine Community Libraries, Inc. (OR), the first step was building a sound infrastructure of support, rather than simply creating another new program.

Read more

Tools of the Trade: Empathy, Respect, Openness,
Communications, and the Library Mission

Posted on November 4, 2015
During the time of unrest in Ferguson, we at the Ferguson Municipal Public Library (FMPL) made a conscious decision to simply stay open for our community. We forged many vital relationships during those difficult days by providing empathy, respect, and comfort to the people in our community.

Empathy and Respect – Keeping our doors open during the hard days created a shift in how the people of Ferguson thought of their library. The empathy and respect we showed our patrons created a synergistic boost to the community as a whole.

Understand patrons, and respect them as people. Everything else grows from this, but you have to really mean it. If you care deeply about your community, it shows in every conversation, decision, and service. This cannot be an abstract thingcaring in aggregate but not in specific. It’s about building actual relationships. After all, we serve each patron as a person, individually.

Read more

Success = Aligning Library Services to Support Community Goals

Posted on November 2, 2015

By Susan H. Hildreth, Executive Director, Califa Group, Pacific Library Partnership, Peninsula Library hildreth4System, and Administrator, NorthNet Library System

I believe that the future relevance and success of the public library is dependent upon the library’s deep knowledge and commitment to community growth and success. Although many libraries have had stated commitments to community priorities, I do not think that we have been disciplined or strategic in effectively deploying the library’s assets to support those priorities. I want to highlight two resources funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that can provide a framework for integrating community insight into the ongoing program of the library.

Read more

“Book” Branded: Build on Your Strengths

Sacramento Public Library Director Shares Thoughts on Branding

By Rivkah K. Sass, Director, Sacramento Public Libraryssas

Randomly select 20 strangers and ask them what they think about their local public library. You’re likely to get 20 different answers, and most of them are probably not what you want to hear. As we think about who we are, what we do and, more importantly, what our brand is, chances are that our customers think we’re about books while we try to convince them that we’re so much more. After all, many of us loan games, do prom dress drives, teach punk-rock aerobics, partner with microbreweries (Edgar Allan Porter, anyone?), and offer 3D printing services. We push the envelope of what we loan and how we program for one reason and one reason only: to get people in the door so that they can discover what we really have to offer — ideas, inspiration, and access.

Read more

Embedding Your Library in the Community: How to Overcome Obstacles and Lead Transformational Change

By Steven V. Potter, Director and CEO at Mid-Continent Public Library

What happens when your strategic plan blocks attempts at innovative programs?
One of the most innovative and community-changing programs I have seen in several years is Career Online High School. The immediate impact of this program at the early-adopting libraries was stunning to me. Clearly, a program like Career Online High School provides a very meaningful answer to that tired old question, “Since everyone has a Kindle, do we still need libraries?”

When I saw Career Online High School, I was amazed but unhappy.I know our strategic plan. I know our key performance indicators. I know our demographics and needs. I know Career Online High School does not easily align into our strategic direction, but I also know we have a diverse population and there are people in our community who could use this program. So that’s the end of the story, right? Not so fast! A program like Career Online High School can be a great opportunity to create a partnership with another organization.

Read more

Moving Bolding into the Future in a Time of Change

Multnomah County Library

By Vailey Oehlke

Each of us knows innately how the world around us is changing. From the smartphone in our pocket or purse that connects us with people and information in an instant, to the ongoing threats posed by large scale corporate data breaches, our lives are very different than they were a few short years ago. There isn’t much we can predict with certainty except that more uncertainty is ahead.

And, of course, the public library exists in this same uncertainty. Some see this as a fundamental threat to libraries. I see it as a transformative opportunity to redefine our role of value, contribute to our communities and change lives in a totally unique way. Aren’t we fortunate to be in positions to effect this opportunity?

Read more

Shifting Perception: Valued for what we do

Edmonton Public Library, 2014 Library of the Year

By Tina Thomas

Libraries have been at a crossroads of existence since I joined the Edmonton Public Library (EPL) five years ago – likely well before that and probably for many more years to come. In his article[1] outlining that “being essential” is not enough to sustain libraries, Rick Anderson highlights that an important thing libraries must do is provide value and a return on investment.

We know that if you ask 1000 people if they believe libraries are important the vast majority will say yes. But we also know that those same people may not know what the modern library does or even use the library themselves.

The challenge is libraries are often valued as an institution or idea, not for the services they provide. And, to Rick’s point, if the lofty idea of “essential” is all libraries have, we likely will be challenged to find support for the work we do in a sea of essential services.

Read more

Shifting Perception: Libraries = Education

Frederick Road Howard County Library System

By Valerie J. Gross 

There’s a powerful movement afoot and it’s gaining momentum.

Hailed by Library Journal as “a 21st-century library model, with a position, doctrine, purpose, and curriculum worthy of study and consideration by every other library in America, if not the world,” [1] this effective strategy takes libraries back to their original purpose.

At the turn of the 20th century, libraries were established as educational institutions to deliver equal opportunity in education for everyone. Somehow, a century later, we find ourselves with a diluted purpose—so much so that fully one third of Americans do not know what we do.[2]

Read more

Shifting Perception: Why Essentialness is Not the Problem

Chattanooga Public Library

By Corinne Hill

The fact that the topic of “the essentialness of libraries” is trending right now reveals a completely different issue that has nothing to do with the library being essential.

What this trending topic and ensuing discussions reveal about our profession is that we’re totally insecure. We are frantic in our zeal to be everything to everyone, and we’re so busy and distracted with the gathering of evidence to defend our existence that we forget who we are.

Read more