I have decided to blog about some library secrets (i.e. helpful tips for your research as a writer, sleuth, wannabe trivia master, and more). To start, I am including my essay about the future of the public library. This is probably not a big secret, or is it? You be the judge.
and the Future of Libraries
A library is not a luxury but one of
the necessities of life.
— Henry Ward BEECHER
You may have
forgotten his name—Martin. You may have a hard time deciding which one of his
ads is your favorite: the one where he’s
dancing in Texas, or his journey out of the parking lot. But there’s hardly a soul out there who
wouldn’t recognize that tiny, British-accented gecko who is the mascot for
Geico Auto Insurance. Not only is Martin
a gecko, he IS Geico. Without a doubt, Geico has increased their sales and
notoriety with consumers through Martin.
of our libraries depends on the same—a clear, concise marketing style. In the past, libraries have made the mistake
of thinking they are separate from this business of marketing. We’ve argued, people
should value us for what we are. Or, we’ve always existed, therefore we should
be forever appreciated. Unfortunately, this is a harmful assumption. As much as
any business out there, the library needs to make its value to the community
known—consistently and constantly.
Marketing is the key to our future.
So how do we
do this? More than the number of books we provide on OverDrive, more than the
variety of programs we offer children
and seniors alike, it is the people behind the library’s name who serve as our
best asset. As Rivkah Sass wrote in Library Journal (6/2002), “As highly touted,
purely electronic tools like Questia fade into history, we should remember to
market the value of what is the largest percentage of most library budgets—the
staff.” Librarians bring indepth knowledge, experience, and a relationship to
our patrons. We do this daily in the Outreach Department at the Morrill
Memorial Library. We reach out to the community. We are in the business of
touching people’s lives and making a lasting impression. This is what we do
best, and this is something worthy of the patron’s attention.
parents’ Massachusetts town, there is a hardware store called Cataldo’s. This
family- run store is a beloved fixture on Main Street. However, the day that
Loews moved in everyone was worried. How could this small business survive the big
competition? Turns out, it wasn’t a problem. Why? The reason for its success relates
to librarians as well. Not only does Cataldo’s provide the goods. Not only do
they provide the know-how. They provide the personal touch. They are there for
you when ice dams crash through you ceiling. They know your children and your
children’s children as they grow up.
Just as the
famous jingle from Cheers goes, we all want to go where “everybody knows your
name.” The library is that kind of place. We are essential to our
communities—the great equalizers of society. We need to send out this message
loud and clear. Librarians are valuable. You can bet your future on it.