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.

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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.

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Data-Driven Marketing: Know Your Community

Analytics tool for Public Libraries

By Gerry Sawchuk

It’s impossible to attend a conference or read a library magazine today without hearing about data-driven decision making, big data, and measuring outcomes. Amidst the increasing “noise” around any trending topic, it can be hard to determine what it means for you and what tools are available to help gather and analyze data—here are some details to help you get started.

Do Analytics Really Matter?

“Big data” and “analytics” are buzzwords for good reason. Businesses in other industries have relied heavily on consumer demographics and data analysis for years. Research shows that businesses that leverage data analytics have stronger financial performance, are able to make better decisions more quickly, and are more likely to execute those decisions as intended.

Why does this matter to you? Libraries are not businesses, right? Many libraries are understandably sensitive to being compared to for-profit businesses. Consider for a moment though, that as a library, your products are the content and services you provide, and that your customers are your patrons. Profit aside, libraries have much to gain by leveraging data to retain and grow customers. Quite simply, there is an opportunity to be better positioned to meet the needs of your patrons.

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