Library – What will you give up? and When?

I was intrigued by a post the other day by Seth Godin. – The Long Slide.  He talks about a hobby shop that over time added all kinds of other product to try and stay in business. Besides the typical hobby stuff – trains, models… they added –  lottery, coffee, etc… presumably to try and make enough money to stay in business. At what point have all the things you added over the years begin to compromise why you are in business in the first place?

Could this apply to libraries? What is the “core value” of what your library does. How many “things” – procedures, policies, ways of operating have you added over the years? How many procedures are still in place that are outdated or could be replaced by more efficient ways of operating? What about the number of newspapers or magazines you carry. Are they all really being read? Or is it “just the way we have always done things”. What about the audio format. Are you done ordering audio tape yet? Are you still offering a service so that the same 5 people take advantage of that service each month. Only to find out that you don’t have the time or resources to offer a new service that will serve 50 new customers or students.

Remember all those newfangled formats and Library 2.0 things we have talked about that seem to hold some promise. Maybe they do and maybe they don’t. But if you haven’t tried anything new because “you never have the time” – maybe it’s time to stop doing some “old things” so you can move on to a few “new things”. I am not saying to add coffee or lottery tickets, I mean add new services that are central to your core purpose.

Go back and clarify what your school or public library core values and purpose are. Somewhere in there is your “path to greatness”. Aren’t you tired of the everyday mad rush – only to find your library stuck in mediocrity?

Be curious, dream big, be courageous, be great!

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4 Responses to “Library – What will you give up? and When?”

  1. Beth Says:

    There are two factors that seem to rise up whenever we try to clarify core values: nostalgia (love for the way things used to be) and fear of failure. If you can allow yourself to make mistakes and look objectively at your core values, then eventually you will find yourself where you want to be.

  2. Brad Fish Says:

    Beth, I agree with you. That sense of nastalgia is a powerful feeling. It is also a way to get bogged down in a “fear of change”. I know that I tend to remember the best of most of my personal and work history. What seemd like such challenging and difficult situations from the past, those same situations now seem so much less intimidating than when it was happening. Sometimes – the “good old days” really weren’t that great. On the other hand, most of my difficulties forced me to grow and change. I am grateful for that.

  3. Kelley Says:

    OOH, I think you hit the nail on the head here: “Are you still offering a service so that the same 5 people take advantage of that service each month. Only to find out that you don’t have the time or resources to offer a new service that will serve 50 new customers or students.”

  4. Brad Fish Says:

    Kelley,

    I know it seems like a dis-service to the 5 loyal, long term customers if we even “consider” eliminating any services. If you have correctly identified an important new service that “needs” to be added, maybe we should take the time to talk to those 5 customers and discuss the issue . Maybe they have a solution that can help us to do both, or at the very least, we can help those 5 customers understand the need for the change and that you are concerned about them and their relationship to the library. Maybe they have other needs that can be addressed and met.

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