Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In the next ten years -- What should libraries do better?

1) Evaluate
-- In order to improve on services, physical plant, and collections, the evaluation and investigation process must be continuous. Sometimes the evaluation must be formal using surveys and sometimes the evaluation may be informal or anecdotal. One must listen to the needs of readers, staff, and community. The evaluation process identifies areas that are worthy of praise, areas in need of fixing and ideas that should be shared.

2) Improve -- The result of the evaluation and investigation is improvement. People and buildings need to improve to better seem the public. Planning and anticipation is part of the improvement process. Sometimes the systems need to be fixed before they get broken.

3) Emphasize -- Figure how the best way to deploy resources. Find the right balance of information resources to store, retrieve and use.

4) Remain aware of the mission -- Libraries are portals of information. Define what your library is and what it is not. Stay on your mission so that your staff and your public understand your message. Don't shy away from the mission of supplying information on the many sides of an issue. Libraries are valued assets of the community, but they should not advocate ideas that are beyond information. Recreational reading, encouraging reading and understanding of the world, promoting the cultural treasures are all part of the mission. Encouraging religious dialog and curing the ills of society are better left to other agencies and crusaders.

5) Learn -- Never stop learning. Continue to examine professional and scholarly literature for new ideas and evaluation of research. Learn from other libraries and colleagues about their best practices and what does not work. Never stop searching for excellence. Don't be satisfied with coasting and mediocrity because there is always something to learn.

All of these areas will help the organization be better today and in 5 or 10 years.

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