I’ve read quite a few article over the years, that talk about wanting to change the image of the public library.
I can understand that. For example, I had a couple come into the library today to use our Internet. The young man had commented that he hadn’t been to a library in years and got really interested when I talked about our DVDs and magazines. His wife said it was likely that he would be spending a lot of time in the library, knowing this. He was most enthusiastic. But would he have ever discovered that if he hadn’t come in for the Internet?
No matter how we market ourselves, many people still have no idea that we have so much more for them than the books they remember using (often under protest), from the library of their childhood.
So a new image sounds great – how to get it is a post for another time.
However, I run into a quandary with this. Yes, I want the image of the library to change, but what if that change impacts libraries in a way we don’t expect or want?
I am talking about current public perception of libraries. Numerous studies have shown that public libraries are considered, by local communities, as a necessary service in local communities, even by those who don’t use them. They are seen to be a valuable resource and a trustworthy and impartial source for content and who provide good service. Public library services in Victoria, which are local Council run, consistently rank highest in satisfaction with Council services.
So the quandary for me is how we do change the image of public libraries, without changing the image of public libraries?
How do we update the image of what we do and what we offer, without changing the perception of value, trust and good service. If changing the former means changing the latter and we lose our community goodwill, then we lose our chance to be around for the long term. Yet if we don’t change the former, will we still be here anyway?
Your thoughts would be appreciated.