A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

November/December 2013Volume 52, No. 6

The Right Work

Recently Skokie (Ill.) Public Library (SPL) engaged in another strategic planning process. The event kicked off at our annual staff day, with all staff members sitting at big round tables in mixed groups of librarians, clerks, shelvers, maintenance,
and security personnel. They talked about the changes they had observed in the community over the past three years and where they saw opportunities for the library to make a difference. While we will continue to circulate materials, answer questions, and conduct storytimes, we have increasingly begun to look for the strategic intersection of gaps in community services or needs of specific groups with the library’s capacity to respond. These areas represent opportunities for the library to truly make a difference. We crafted a vision stating that SPL is “the heart of a vibrant village where people of all ages and cultures engage in lifelong learning and discovery while actively participating in the life of the community.” Meanwhile, our mission portrays the library “as a springboard for personal growth and community development.” Our planning team talked about our shared values, which in brief were articulated as: provide access, foster learning, and build community.

Rules for Reflectors

It happened again, librarians. We’re at the end of another year, and hopefully all of you are making strides toward 2014 with a certain amount of confidence. I hope this finds you with an eagerness to start things anew—be it a calendar or fiscal year. But before you turn the page on 2013, take some […]

Don’t Forget the Tweens

Teen services in the library cover a large age group from middle school to high school. But what about that group of preteens or tweens? My library gets a large crowd for storytime with toddlers and preschoolers. And we even get a good group for younger school age programs. But once our patrons start becoming tweens, we start to see a drop in attendance at our programs and this sometimes carries over into our teen programs. We want to create a bridge between children’s and teen programming so we program just for tweens.

Library Call Centers

More and more public libraries are searching for new ways to remain relevant and provide convenient, useful service in today’s fast-paced world. To do so we have increasingly focused on ways to offer services to customers in a manner that does not require people to be physically present in one of our buildings to receive assistance. These options include telephone, email, chat, texting, and mobile web. But the more we offer the more thoughtful we must be in planning for support of these services so that neither customers nor library staff become frustrated or dissatisfied. Is the persistent ringing of telephones interrupting staff that otherwise might be available to proactively help customers on the public floor? Channeling telephone calls away from staff at the public desk and directing this telephone traffic toward knowledgeable staff dedicated to making calls their top priority has real benefits for everyone. Several libraries have consolidated these services under one umbrella similar to a business call center, including (1) Douglas County (Colo.) Libraries (DCL), (2) Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (Ohio) (PLCHC), (3) Jefferson County (Colo.) Public Library (JCPL), (4) High Plains Library District (Weld County, Colo.) (HPLD), and (5) Johnson County (Kans.) Library (JCL). Each organization has taken a unique approach to creating a successful call center in order to meet customers “where they are.”1

Reaching Senior Patrons in the Digitized Library

According to the most recent available figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, 13.2 percent of the population is age 65 or older with an additional 5.7 percent turning 65 within the next five years.1 This segment of the American population is an important part of the library’s user group, and one which we must consider as society and the public library become more digital.

Growing Like a Read: Early Literacy Summer Programming in Central Oklahoma

Pioneer Library System (PLS) in Central Oklahoma offers Growing Like a Read (GLAR), an early literacy program based on Every Child Ready to Read @ your library (ECRR), an initiative of PLA and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), divisions of the American Library Association (ALA). The goal of GLAR is to increase parents’ and caregivers’ knowledge and behaviors that positively impact pre-reading skills development in children from birth through age four. Incentives provided by community partners and branded giveaways provided through a foundation grant are offered as part of the program. Strong community partnerships are an integral part of the GLAR program from development through operation.