This week we embark another new year. The world of libraries is always talking about change and moving forward, so what are your library’s new year’s resolutions? Below are some of my ideas for resolutions for libraries & librarianship as we enter 2008:
- Continuous Learning & Sharing of Knowledge. Just think, if each librarian at your institution learned about one new gadget or piece of technology per day we would always be surrounded by creative ideas and solutions. Think of all the open source software that’s out there that isn’t being utilized in libraries. All the Firefox add-ons (screen grab has pretty much changed my life) that none of us even know about. Let’s all commit to taking a few minutes every day to find something new, experiment with it, and when we find something useful – share what we find with our colleagues. Props to those that are already doing exactly this.
- Marketing, Library-Style. Marketing appears to be a relatively new concept in libraries, but with the constant budget cuts and fighting for support we really need to take it seriously. To be honest, my initial reaction when I saw the word “marketing” in a SIRLS class was pretty negative. It sounds business, corporate, and equivalent to “advertising” which makes me think of deceiving people into buying something they don’t need. But in reality, there is much more to marketing than public relations and advertising. Creating a marketing plan for your library requires assessment, analysis, and refinement of vision, mission & objectives. A marketing plan can increase a library’s worth and its visibility in your community, and in the world of academic libraries it can ultimately increase student success. So maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe it’s necessary to move libraries forward in the right direction; to keep us relevant and responsive to our users. So resolution number two for libraries: create a marketing plan. For librarians: listen to your customers, and use marketing tools to increase the visibility of your library and its services.
- Emerging Technologies. I’m not going to say “library 2.0” because that phrase has become so overused that it’s starting to lose all meaning. But I will throw these nuggets out there: educational technology, collaborative technology, technology for assessment, open source technology. It’s all over, and has the power to transform libraries into thriving educational environments that inspire learning, discovery, and creativity – both physically and virtually. Third resolution: utilize these technologies (wisely, of course) to improve your library both within your organization internally and externally with what you library has to offer its users.
- Usability. Libraries are coming to realize that navigating their websites, and their OPACs particularly, are not intuitive to users. If you have any say whatsoever in your own library’s website, make reading Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think first on your list if you haven’t done so already. Hold usability testing to see what library users actually have trouble with when searching for library services & materials. Advocate for better information architecture in databases your library subscribes to. Don’t jeopardize the friendliness of your library by having a poor web presence. So as a final resolution: make sure your library users can easily use your library’s services. Make sure they are not afraid of it, or frustrated by it, and if they are – fix it.
These resolutions are pretty broad but they are intended to be, and in reality I don’t think they are difficult to achieve. And I’m thinking they will be well worth it, so I will try to hold myself to them.