Collections and the Community

This was the Fourth Program in "The Library as Community Center" series and was originally held on May 24, 2012.

Collections and the Community

Presented by Marcia Allen, Manhattan Public Library and Diana Weaver of Basehor Library

The premise was that library users need to have multiple opportunities to encounter materials in the library's collections, in all formats. Leaving the items on the shelves and the readers in the town will never help the library become the beloved center of the library's service community.

Marcia Allen, of the Manhattan Public Library, explores ways in which librarians can work with the community to build collections. Marcy will look at sources for demographic information, at features which pull library customers to the website, and at marketing tools that librarians can utilize. She will also discuss ways to showcase library collections and to solicit customer input. We will also talk about library programming and ways to make the customers feel that the library is an inviting  destination.

Marcy described ways to bring content and people together, through showcasing, displays, websites, booklists, reviews, staff picks, programs, simple friendliness and a facility made as welcoming as possible. Marcy pointed that the librarians need to learn about the community residents, and that the up-to-date needs of all ages need to be thoughtfully considered.

Marcy ended her presentation with several slides of library users and library staff enjoying themselves immensely, lively illustrations from a library that has become a community center in a vital and growing Flint Hills community.

Diana and her staff at Basehor Community Library had been concentrating some attention on E-books, which Diana described as a moving target.

E-books are a relatively new format that is fascinating, but not yet familiar to many library users. Diana's advice was fairly simple: Pay attention to them. A Digital Readers Group in Basehor learned to look at them, play with them, evaluate their usability, offer classes on them, advertise their content. But while it is important to publicize their richness, librarians should also share information on the problems of E-book publishing, for this is a media that is still finding a place in the world, and people need to understand the environment as it develops. One of Diana's important points is that no one is an expert and no one should be trying to be - it will only slow things down. The ideas for E-book development in Basehor could be easily replicated in libraries of all sizes.

In the second hour Diana Weaver, of the Basehor Community Library, discussed ways for libraries of all sizes to serve patrons in the digital environment. At Basehor, they have created a community focus group to help map a plan. The group auditioned several devices and scored them according to ease of use and the reading experience. The focus group also suggested ways the library could meet the needs of library users with this new technology. Diana shared what they learned in Basehor and what they have done, including classes, purchasing content and circulating devices. Diana ended her presentation with some very thoughtful questions about the future of books. Librarians and library users will be discussing those issues over wine and lattes and cups of tea for years to come.