I think anybody who’s even vaguely interested in literacy should be in their local library. This is grass roots stuff. Unfortunately all too many libraries are staffed by people who don’t care. Who are just there for the job. Can’t stand people and would rather shush them into submission then engage. It’s horrendous. Trust me, I’ve met a lot of them and each time I do I am appalled anew.
There are amazing libraries out there. I’ve also had the pleasure to experience them / work in them. Staffed by people fighting cutbacks and producing work that is outstanding under the circumstances. People who know the name of everybody who comes in and treat each customer as a friend.I love these places. I’ve worked in a few. Each time I did it was a total honour. You feel like you’re part of something special and that feeling can’t help but pass onto the customer.
So I detailed a few of my thoughts below. Comments and discussion always welcome.
- Our staff. Passionate, vibrant ambassadors for the service. Vital.
- Our knowledge. The ability to tailor an experience to a user. The ability to inspire and engage.
- Our initiatives. Bookstart, Year of Reading, I love Libraries.
- Our stock. Free and for anyone who wants it.
- Our staff. People who do the job just because it’s a job and refuse to look forward.
- Our costs. Libraries cost a lot of money and provide an intangible return.
- Our image. Libraries are not trendy places to go.
- Our insularity. Wanting to attract more users and then complaining when we do.
- The Harry Potter effect. Capitalising on the popularity and media exposure of books.
- New technology – web 2.0 – blogging, twitters, podcasts.
- New readers will not come independently to us. Therefore we have to go to them. Chances to engage audiences in supermarkets, high-street settings. Change the library ‘image’ – Ideas Store.
- High street book shops. Do our job and cost the taxpayer nothing.
- Ageing staff with little confidence / inclination in trying new IT systems. Inherent costs in developing new technologies.
- Cuts. Cuts.Cuts. People stop coming, money is diverted = job cuts
24/7/2012 – This post gets a lot of traffic. I think a lot of my thoughts still stand but I’ve just had a bit of a revelatory moment. I Wordled the above post and I’m struck by the prominence of “people”, “engage” and “libraries”. If I hold nothing else dear, I hold that. People make libraries, through their interaction and engagement with the service. And we need to keep making that happen.