Friday 22 June 2012

Redesigning, Rediscovering, Rethinking, Rebooting

How does the changing nature of client behaviour etc influence the way we deliver our services? What sort of staff do libraries need?

In recent years client behaviour and expectations regarding information and access to information sources has changed drastically. Technological developments have given access to many information sources that were once the preserve/domain of specialists such as librarians.

Clients expect digital access to all forms of information and entertainment. Many people who would have once looked to the library as a source of reliable, affordable and up-to-date information are now able to gain access to this information themselves. This leaves librarians with the option of reinventing their role or disappearing.

Redesigning, rediscovering, rethinking, rebooting are all part of the picture of reinvention. But what sort of staff does it take to fit in with this new redesign of libraries, librarians and the services they provide?

Libraries and library staff cannot control the circumstances that led to the change in the way in which people seek information, but libraries can control how they react to the changes.  

Seth Godin describes the new library as a creative space, a place where ideas flourish, technology is available and a sense of community exists. Whether management are looking at existing staff or newly recruited staff the same essential characteristics need to be there. 

That is an openness to new ideas and a willingness to try something new that may not have been done before are all traits that are necessary for library staff in an age of fast change. What worked last year may not work this year, we must be ready to adjust our attitudes and be in touch with what our client base is seeking from a library service in order to retain significance as an entity.

Libraries such as the City of Sydney display a willingness to explore new ideas regarding the use of library space and exhibit a desire to discover how they can best serve the city. They are proposing a 24-hour library, one that meets the needs of the city's population and provides services to all ages.

The currency of knowledge has changed, people no longer rush to the library to find answers to questions that can be researched by the individual on their own computer. What the library can offer is a community space where reliable information can be sourced, technology accessed and creative ideas shared. 

Library staff that display flexibility in attitude towards their roles and the function and purpose of the library space will find themselves still relevant in an age where the importance of libraries is sometimes questioned.

Rhonda Tyrrell

Seth Godin

City of Sydney

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