Lately have been wondering about how you would reach the non-library user? How do you get them using your collection or telling you what they want as far as services / collections are concerned so that they will use your services. With limited funds the libraries, whether academic, special or public libraries, need to be savvy with the way they use their funds and what they offer as far as services are concerned.
In the context of the public library, which is mainly my focus, you get such a different range of people coming through that you can really be stretched. I’m not only interested in the range of collections – do we focus on fantasy rather than science fiction or crime etc. – but also do we cut out the audio books in tape format – & yes we do still have some (some of our patrons will not give up their tape recorders) – in favour of e-audiobooks or do we continue to purchase audio tapes, audio cds & e-audiobooks?
The question also arises for those who don’t come to the library – why not? Is it not enough time? or we don’t have the resources/ things of interest? or are they just not aware of the services the library has to offer? I’m continually getting surprised looks when I tell people what I do when I’m at work at a public library. The usual assumption is “but you just loan out books don’t you?”. There are days when I feel like I’m the counsellor, careers advisor as well as the person who loans out the book you want to borrow. They get surprised when I say “yes I loan out books but I also train people on how to use computers, how to send emails, search for information, how to use Twitter and Facebook as well.”
It’s fair to say we can’t be all things to all the people but we sure can try and provide as much reasons as possible for them to use the library and to find value in what we do provide. I don’t pretend to know the answers but I know that it’s something that I’ll continue to try and answer – who do we get the non-user using the library?