Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Serving the 21st Century Patron 2010 Online Conference, Part 2: 21 Ideas for 21st-Century Libraries

Kim Bolan-Cullin and Rob Cullin had some exciting ideas about making libraries “shoppable” without a lot of expense. They call their approach “refreshovation”--more than buying one new couch, but much less expensive than a full renovation.

First, they suggest getting input from patrons in as many ways as possible. A Powerpoint presentation with lots of pictures helps people know what their options are. Patrons may not be aware of new things like downloadables, so they only ask for what they know about already.

A “shoppable” library should be very welcoming, with lots of seating amidst the shelving and materials shelved faced out. Small-group collaboration is of increasing importance, so there should be places set aside for it. Other possibilities include: a coffee shop, a business center, and a library within a shared space.

Spaces can be updated cheaply with paint, signs, and furniture. New ideas like self-service holds, roving reference, and re-organizing desks to make them more user-friendly (think of Apple “Genius bars” and how they turn the computers towards customers) can be implemented without much expense.

Youth services is sometimes overly focused on zero to 5-year-olds. What about 5-8 or 8-12? Each age group should have areas with interactive items that stimulate their developments. Teens should have a separate area and be given input.

Furniture should be modular so your library can be flexible. Instead of a dedicated training area, how about laptops and furniture on casters so training can be done in different places? In a meeting room, maybe some comfy chairs with little laptop tables instead of hard chairs and big tables. For small-group collaboration, use screens for semi-private areas that don’t need to be monitored.

Signage should be very clear in a shoppable library. Avoid using jargon like circulation, reference, and youth services. Stacks should have words on signs in addition to call numbers. Digital picture frames can be used to create digital signs. Patrons want to be able to navigate on their own.

Another way to give patrons more self-service options is with vending machines. Some libraries use Redbox for popular movies and save their budget for independent, foreign, or educational DVDs. A few libraries have added vending machines with library materials at transit stations or other locations as a sort of “stationary Bookmobile”. There are also vending machines with office supplies for a study area or business center.

Don’t spend your money on things the patrons aren’t asking for. Remember to weed, weed, weed, Think about new, unconventional collections like cake pans, fishing poles, and electric meters.

Patrons want to learn and use new technology in the library. Don’t forbid them. Instead, use QR codes on signs which give patrons information via cell phones. Teach lots of classes and have lots of programs. Staff don’t have to be super-techno-wizards to teach, they can learn about things via web sites such as Instructables or How Stuff Works and teach them to patrons. Hire for attitude, train for skill. Cross-train staff to break down barriers.

With these tips and flexibility to their community’s needs in the future, any library can “change no to yes” and be something to all people.

An archived version of the webinar, links, and slides are available here. Lots of interesting pictures of libraries.

--Andrea @Central

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, wow, wow!
Lots to chew on in this--thank you!

--Carol H-O