Blog #1: Evolving Libraries

Public libraries continue to be an integral part of communities throughout the world and they must continue to adapt to the changing needs of the people they serve.  In Library 2.0 by Michael Casey and Laura Savastinuk (2007) they stress that change needs to be constant and purposeful in order to continue to provide its users with relevant services, but more importantly to reach non-users and provide them with services as well.  I found the reading to be of great importance and relevant to public libraries to this day even though it was written in 2007 and one of the most important ideas that resonated to me was that change needs to happen with a purpose and not just for the sake of change.  It is important to include the community we serve and the staff at all levels in order create change that will be meaningful and fruitful for that institution and the people it serves.

 The material made me start thinking deeply about how the Oceanside Public Library, the public library I have worked at for about 21 years, has followed the Library 2.0 method of change throughout my years of employment.  There are definitely some methods that we have adopted such as creating a participatory environment among the library staff and the customers we serve.  Through community focus groups that we have hosted and an online platform for feedback, we have created programming and services tailored to the diverse communities we serve.  One of our biggest challenges has been reaching the “Long Tail” of potential users being that our two branches and two mobile libraries are not equipped to serve the growing population of roughly 176,000 people.

Marketplace concept at the Oceanside Public Library Main Library. 5-10-2018

One of the biggest changes I have been a part of at the Oceanside Public Library has been a major renovation that took nearly half of the staff space of our main branch and converted it into public space in order to accommodate the growing user base we serve.  Major changes like these as well as automation have been received with mix feelings from staff, especially those employees that have been a part of the organization for many years.  Prior to the renovation decisions that affected the library were not openly discussed and were very conservative in nature. This time around the changes were well thought out and planned by getting both staff and community input through town hall meetings with stakeholders participating.  The renovation was a big success with both the community and the staff, and it gave the library new life that was missing prior to the major changes. Since the renovation which occurred roughly 8 years ago, our library administration has been more receptive of change as discussed by Casey and Savastinuk which creates a better atmosphere both with the community and the staff.  With the success of our changes it has made change easier for the staff and we as an organization feel valued when our input is taken into consideration by senior management. 

The blueprint of change that Casey and Savastinuk have laid out in Library 2.0, should be the standard for any decisions that are to be made by public libraries.  The idea of having three vertical teams (Investigative, Planning, and Review Team), which serve to include all levels of staff, is of great importance in order to get buy in from the organization.  And as the authors state, it helps staff be more receptive to change knowing their input is being valued.    

Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2007). Library 2.0: A guide to participatory library service. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc.

5 thoughts on “Blog #1: Evolving Libraries

  1. Hi @jgarcia, great to read about the positive changes happening at your library! You mention focus groups and online feedback – were those part of the process for your “marketplace” renovation? And I’m probably overly optimistic to ask this, but has the city been supportive with necessary personnel and funding?

    • Hi @cdkoontz, the focus groups were in fact to get feedback from the community to see what types of changes they would like to see. The marketplace model was definitely something that was presented to them and they seemed to be pretty receptive of the idea. In regards to the city being supportive, we have had a good experience with our city manager since she has been really supportive of the library. Of course some years back when the city was going through some financial issues we did have to get resourceful with the staff we had and make some operating changes. Also, we have some good support from our library friends group and the library foundation group.

  2. Hello Jorge.
    Thank you for your post. I really enjoyed it and I was inspired by the work you have been part of at Ocean Public Library. I am very interested in doing user research in our field and I was very drawn to the implementation of community focus groups at your library. I also believe that it is important to focus on the communities we serve and to form our services to their needs. I read recently that the administration of the library has to be part of these conversations to ensure a fair of these services and to maintain staff that is willing to grow along side these changes. I believe libraries are for people and not just books, per our latest class lesson this week.

    • Hi @tonatiuh0, I couldn’t agree with you more. It is important to get the community’s feedback when major changes are coming in order to understand their needs and what the library can do to best fulfill those needs. And you are correct that administration must be involved alongside staff from all levels of the organization in order for buy in to happen from the organization and community as a whole.

  3. @jgarcia What a great example to read about! I have conducted focus groups of librarians for research projects and it is a fun and informative process. I am glad your public responded well to the marketplace model. It also seems as though staff did too!

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