Polling Your Public

I’ve been responsible for two twitterstreams this week: @saclib_central for my library, and @saclib for the library system. It’s hard enough keeping up with one account; two almost did me in. But thinking about bargaining agreement impasses and the declining role of traditional librarianship in public libraries led me to ask a question of the twitterverse: What’s important to YOU about the library? How can libraries truly demonstrate their value to their communities?

Back came the responses: Go where people gather: out in the community. Attend events, set up a booth at the State Fair, advocate for remote and in-house services. Become more visible. Tell people face-to-face about our services and programs. Offer value-added services such as classes, workshops and programs.

It used to be that everyone knew the value of libraries and felt guilty if they didn’t use the materials and services libraries provide. People used to find out about programs because they used the library regularly in person. Today, many take advantage of other online and remote sources and services, and are less likely to drop in. That means we do need to take our message into the market, so to speak. That also means that people who do not visit the library don’t know about the way we have kept up with the digital times, and are stunned to find out how our materials and services have changed.

The observations from our twitter followers are telling. They are telling us we’ve got to change, too, and not sit on our swivel chairs and bemoan the backwardness of the government agencies that control our budgets, and the ignorance of our patrons, who support us with their tax dollars. Whose fault is it that they are ignorant? What are we going to do about it?

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