This is a fun presentation. I gave this keynote at the SEFLIN Conference a week or so ago in Miami. The intention is to look realistically at where our libraries are at, where our customers are at, where we’re likely to go if we stay on the same path, and where our customers will go based on their paths. Hint: the paths do not magically merge.
We have a real opportunity right now with funding challenges to focus on the service area with the highest return on investment of any unit, branch, or service. That’s right–digital and web services. This means eBooks, eAudio, eMagazines, eNewspapers, online services that tutor kids or help you learn a new language. We have all this stuff…have had it for a long time. But now that our doors are closing it’s a nice time to say cheerfully “We’re open online, and here’s what you can get!”
I also think we’re in a time where people with ideas they feel passionately about will have the chance to be heard. If it saves money, increases efficiency, provides a new service cheaply, then management will be all over it. Because ultimately, management’s biggest problem is $$$. Oh yeah, that and politics. But if you can help with the money part with ideas you’ve been holding onto for ages, now is the time to let those ideas blossom. We are not powerless. Our libraries can be what we want them to be–they do not need to remain, as they have, for the last few centuries. It’s time to make a big, bold move people. So, what’s yours going to be?