A library has often been viewed as the central point of any town. It is the information hub, study spot, and gathering place. It provides things to the residents that they might not be able to otherwise enjoy. Whether it succeeds depends upon you.
Know Your Community
The needs of a library are based primarily upon the desires of its patrons. Inventory purchases and library events will only be successful if you are catering to those you serve. Don’t give them what you think they want, but rather get to know them and follow through accordingly. Make it a point to recognize regular patrons and take the time to note what they liked or didn’t. Also, use their check-out history to get an idea what they prefer to read and make recommendations when they aren’t sure what to try next. Cross-referencing patrons with similar reading habits is very helpful in this regard.
Not everyone has an automatic interest in libraries. To prevent numbers from dwindling, pique interest in other ways to cultivate future patrons. Event planning is easy and fun. From story hour for toddlers to movie nights and tea parties, there is a plethora of options. Is it difficult to get teens interested in your library? Offer them a place to bring their prom dresses and accessories for an exchange and be sure to set out teen magazines and books that deal with fashion and hair styles. Show them what you have to offer.
State Aid and Grants
A library cannot run, and expand, simply on the monies acquired through fines, millages and the like. It is imperative to research for ways in which to supplement. Be aware of what is out there. Each year, there is State Aid available. In addition, apply for grants that might help with the purchase of larger items such as computers and printers. If you are unsure where to start, go to the American Library Association website at www.ala.org.
Education is Key
Having a career does not mean there’s no room for improvement. Accredited programs can be taken at any point in time in order to update knowledge and give inspiration and insight into up-and-coming resources and technology. These courses range in time-frame and cost. If you are a member of a cooperative, check with them to see what options you have. Each state’s library website will also have information as will the ALA. Never settle with what you already know. The more up-to-date you are, the better your patrons will be served.
Personally, I don’t care for Nooks and Kindles. That does not, however, prevent me from offering these services to the patrons who do. Keeping them interested in the library keeps us alive, and if they can use their patron cards to borrow books from an online database that counts toward our State Aid, then it’s a win-win.
Audio books and videos are other areas of interest that have increased in my library. People are finding it harder to be able to afford entertainment, and that’s where we come in. It is up to us to serve our community in the best way possible.
Libraries are not just buildings full of books. We offer so much more than what was originally intended. There is talk of technology bringing about the library’s demise. It is within our power to prove those rumors wrong and show ourselves as being just as important in today’s world as we always have been.