I have worked at the main branch of the San Jose Public Library (SJPL) system as a page since April 2022. My branch manager focuses on data generated from the ILS, focusing on events and services. My time at work is broken up into one-hour increments, and I shift my tasks between the front desk, book sorting, shelving, inter-library loan processing, and searching for holds for other branches, among other jobs and special projects.
I have been thinking about library events and services at our busy downtown main branch. This branch gets the BIG citywide events. Some events are so significant that a new library card will be issued to go along with the event.
We also have a sizeable unhoused population. I have seen social service workers meeting with people in the library’s open areas, offering them clean socks and asking about services they might need. Of course, there are storytime events for kids, although, no drag queen storytimes.
As I walk around my library, I think about how I would create programs or services for this library. Info 285 Action Research Methods taught some excellent ways to set up a research study for implementing or evaluating new or current services. I would love to delve into surveys and focus groups and crunch numbers. Schmidt, 2016 tells us, “Instead of asking people about libraries, we need to ask people about their lives.” This blew my mind. What a great idea! Sure I go to the library to get a book, but I go out to eat and shop on the weekend. I wonder how the downtown library community would survey. What events could we bring besides the BIG and anchor storytime events? “…determined who your most valuable library members are, … how the library fits into their lives,… What else would they use the library for, if they could?” ( Pewhairangi, 2014). Does SJPL know who its most valuable members are? I guess they do because they do a lot of programming for children and older adults and provide tech assistance. Another program that this library offers, which is vital, is lending Wi-Fi hotspots and Chromebooks.
Whatever programs I bring to my future library, I will survey the community and ask what they do outside the library. I would love to bring cooking events to a library, that seems so fun! We will have to see what the survey results say!
Pewhairangi, S. (2014). A beautiful obsession. Weve.
Schmidt, A. (2016, May 1). Asking the right questions. Library Journal, 141(8).