Today’s librarians should have two main goals for 2014: bring more people to their facilities and offer more resources to their communities. As eReaders and eBooks gain popularity, people are losing sight of the creativity that a library can inspire. People are unsure of how to fit libraries into their lives in the digital age.
Here’s how you can reassure them, while also helping your library a little, too:
1. Encourage donations and book drives.
You can encourage library engagement by inviting the community to donate their gently used materials. If they don’t fit in your collection, you can sell or trade them in a monthly book drive or give them to your local Salvation Army.
In fact, book drives and sales are ideal for any library: they bring members of the community to the facility and they help raise money. The extra money can be used for summer reading programs or other activities that will help your facility better serve its community.
2. Rethink, reorganize, redesign.
Few libraries have the budget or resources for a complete renovation, but a breath of fresh air can be accomplished with a simple change of scenery. You could rearrange furniture to create more space; paint the walls with bright colors to breathe new life into your building; or organize makerspaces. These changes are not only cost-effective but can also inspire further creativity.
3. Streamline your website.
Your site should be informative, engaging and easy to use. Can they glance at the website and understand your mission and message within a few seconds? Can they find what they are looking for in under a minute? The last thing you want to do is push people away with a poor web presence. Not to mention, your website gives you more opportunities to spread the word about your events, resources and services.
4. Track your visitors.
You can implement technology to track how many visitors come in and out of your facility, measure how often services are used, record how well events are attended and gauge how often materials are used. While a point of sale system can only track data surrounding your transactions, a people counting system can track the amount of people who visit your facility without making purchases – which is most of them. By getting a grasp on how your facility is being used, you will be able to continue to provide the programming that your community wants.
5. Use marketing tactics.
With constant budget cuts being made, marketing is extremely important to libraries. A marketing plan can increase your visibility and demonstrate your value to the community. Email marketing would work especially well for libraries. For example, when a visitor has a question, ask them for their email address to receive updates regarding their query. You could also allow people to sign up for newsletters on your website and computer databases.
The key is to use marketing tactics as often as you want people to pay attention to your facility. If you host and promote new events each week, for example, then your facility will be on the local radar on a weekly basis. Marketing gives libraries the opportunity to become a strong figure in their community and inspires visitors to support it.
6. Develop ongoing resolutions.
Did you accomplish what you wanted to last year? Is it a realistic goal or do you need to set a more reachable one? For the goals that seem insurmountable, you might need to make a two or five-year plan in which you achieve a small step each year. For example, redesigning your current location or opening up a new branch may take a few years to complete.
What would you like to accomplish this year?