Jun 15

User determined use

There’s been a lot of talk about the future of libraries, but it is mostly coming from librarians and naysayers predicting the end of the book. I am looking forward to the results of research our library is conducting on the topic, which will include input from our library users.

But in the meantime, they are already having their say about what they want. With their hands and feet and voices.  Pretty much as they have always done, lol.

They are saying with their loans, that CDs are maybe now just starting to go out of lending fashion – with our loans starting to go down in the Rock and Pop genres (but not in the other genres). What’s next is yet to be determined. Finding a workable library model for music is a challenge in itself.

They are saying it with their queries and feedback forms about scanning. We don’t. Yet. We are getting new photocopiers shortly which will scan to USB as well as copy though.

They are saying with their feet, that they need space to study and work.  We are a single floor building – so no quiet study areas. We have usually been busy with studying students at exam time, but this year, as never before, its been all term round, for quiet study and group work. Wandering through the collections at various times, you would think it was empty, but you get to the seating areas and there are people as far as the eye can see – double and tripled up and even sitting at kids tables and on the floor, when there are no other options.

We also know that there are mature aged learners and business owners who use the library for the space and free wifi even more than the students do. And that we have run out of tables and chairs too often to ignore. Fortunately, we are getting more of those as well and eventually a new building which should accommodate the growing demand for quiet study space. In the meantime, we have more furniture coming, just need to figure out where it will go!

So although its important for us to think about what libraries will be, do and have in future and we need to ask our users this question as well as our staff, its even more important that we are listening to what they are telling us about their needs now in other ways – through their hands, feet and mouths.


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  1. Elaine Willis

    I am a grades 6-12 school librarian and have a very relaxed attitude about noise in the library. Needless to say, the kids love that.

    Unfortunately, what I don’t have is a quiet place for the kids who need that to concentrate. That is something I need to work on for this year.

  2. Michelle McLean

    We have the same issue – we have the noise and people appreciate it, but others want the quiet and there is nothing we can do about that at this time.

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