Do you feel confident that people in your community are ready to stand up and say they value the services your library provides? Better yet, is your library providing services that meet the needs? If you're not sure, read what Nancy Dowd wrote in the Library Journal article If You Don’t Have Time for Partnerships, Chances are Your Community Won’t Have Time for You:
Plain and simple, libraries that are valued by their communities involve the people, local groups and government agencies in developing services and programs. If you don’t have the right programs and services, people won’t care. If people don’t care, they won’t pay attention. And if they don’t pay attention, they’ll just keep thinking the library is doing the same things it was doing last time they visited.
And if you think your community is too small or to rural to create these kinds of partnerships, Nancy says,
The size of your library won’t determine the quality of your partnerships. A library that is committed to listening to its community is taking the first step to building community awareness.
In a related article in LJ, Michelle Lee writes this about Skokie (IL) Public Library: "...some 28 members of its full-time public services staff spend six percent of their time going to community meetings and events, attending board meetings, and serving on community boards and advisory committees to learn about local needs." Hmmm... consider investing time in becoming an "embedded librarian" in your community, answering questions at the point of need and growing community connections. (Note: there's a free webinar on September 24th you might want to attend: "Leaving Fort Ref: Frontiers of Embedded Librarianship".) Nancy outlined Four Tips to Ensure Your Community is “Library Aware”:
- Ask, even if you think you know the answer: "When Skokie saw that small businesses needed propping up due to the economic downturn, the library staff reached out to the local Chamber of Commerce. With the Chamber’s guidance, they were able to build a business center that truly met the needs of the small businesses."
- Empower your community: "PPL has developed a culture where the community is comfortable proposing, participating, and partnering with the library."
- get the other 2 tips at the full text of the article
- If You Don’t Have Time for Partnerships, Chances are Your Community Won’t Have Time for You, Library Journal, 5 Aug 2013
- LibraryAware Community Award Winner, 2013: Canton Public Library and Canton Township, MI, Library Journal, 27 Mar 2013