Posts tagged under: Public Libraries

Purposeful change management

Any kind of change can be challenging. Humans are naturally hesitant to change for very good reason. Unexpected change? Well, that can be traumatic. And if the crisis management we’ve all experienced over the past two years has taught us anything, it’s that change management can no longer be an afterthought. And yes, change and crisis management are different. Too often our approach is to wait for the effort to be in crisis before taking action.

As we shake off the stress of constant reactions during the COVID-19 pandemic, let’s take control with purposeful change. There’s no better time to reflect and learn from experiences, good and bad, and help your organization not only move out of crisis mode, but also be better for it.

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Drive social media success that connects on a personal level

How can you engage purposefully on social media with the different communities your library serves while also addressing larger, system-wide goals and policies? The concept of “social care” offers a clue. Social care differs from traditional customer care in that the purpose isn’t to address one issue, answer one question, or solve one problem. It’s also different than public relations in that it’s not about “one size fits all” for every audience. For social care, the goal is to nurture a more inclusive, longer-term dialogue.

At the Pikes Peak Library District, we’re using these principles to create local and program-specific social media personalities. All of our distinct voices closely align with the unique groups we serve and fall thoughtfully under a system-wide set of values.

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Let’s talk race: The power of conversations

For many people, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has had great personal importance since its origins in 2013—especially in the past year. But in South Carolina, where I work as Manager of the Richland Library Edgewood, this important issue took on even greater local consequence with the murder of Walter Scott in North Charleston and the Charleston church shooting in 2015.

Many people were angry, confused, and frightened. There was a need for reliable news and information and for constructive local discussions. As a community-driven organization, we saw this as a humanitarian crisis, and so we asked, “How can the library help our community heal?”

Our answer was, “Let’s talk race”—a simple but powerful set of programs open to anyone in the community. We’ve now facilitated more than 90 conversations with 4,000+ community members from all backgrounds on a variety of topics explicitly convened to discuss race, social justice, and inequality.

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Look both inside and outside your library for post-pandemic community engagement surprises

When our in-person services were put on hold during the start of the pandemic, some people—both library users and even some staff—thought our role in the community might diminish for a time. I didn’t. I knew that our community needed us now more than ever and we couldn’t fail or disappoint them. We, the library, had to get busy, because during challenging times, libraries step up.

Our staff at Greensboro Public Library definitely did. And I am sure that you did, too. The trick, right now, is to make sure that as we transition out of a pandemic mindset, we carefully consider what parts of our expanded role we choose to retain.

My suggestion? Keep seeking out surprises.

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How “Shark Tank for kids” survived the pandemic

Back in 2017, my colleagues and I at the Orange County Library System were brainstorming new community engagement ideas to support our children’s programming. That summer, the TV show Shark Tank was massively popular in our area—and not just with adults. We already had our “BizKids Camps” programming over the summer, and a staff member suggested we go an extra step and add a real, live business fair.

So, that’s exactly what we did. Our Orlando Children’s Business Fair offers students a platform to launch their businesses, promote their services or products, and build marketing strategies. The fair was very successful for three years running, until COVID-19 hit. While we could not produce a live fair in 2020, that didn’t stop us from continuing to build momentum by creating a new virtual experience to encourage youth entrepreneurship.

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Three ways mobile app technology increases community engagement

As I’ve pulled together notes for this post, 15 alerts have flashed across my smartphone screen. That’s to be expected since we log 5.4 hours a day on our phones. And most of that time—90 percent to be exact—is spent using apps. That begs an important question: How can we use this app time to promote library goals and engage our communities in ways that put the library in the life of the user?

One important step? Simply get more library apps into the hands of users, a goal that we are pursuing quickly—and globally—now that Capira Technologies has joined the OCLC family.

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Library staff learning surges on WebJunction amid COVID-19 closures

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As libraries have closed their physical spaces and adapted services to remote work, we’ve seen library staff spend more time than ever on professional development and online learning. In a poll conducted during the recent OCLC virtual town hall, 81% of attendees reported that they have engaged in more professional development since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a free resource open to all, WebJunction has long been “the learning place for libraries.” But the increase that we’ve seen in time spent learning on webjunction.org between March and April 2020 has been, put simply, extraordinary.

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