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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?
Time really flies and I’ve realised that I’m having to get ready for the next semester of study, planning what courses we’ll be running in the library for August through to September and deciding on how to implement some staff training – especially in social media applications.
How do you implement social media training for staff that are resistant to using computers in the first place. They use the LMS because they have to but as much as possible will not look at any new technology. My normal reaction is that I won’t push anyone into doing anything that they don’t want to do but management has let it be known that all staff need to be made familiar with the technology and how to use it.
This means finding a way that each individual can accept doing something that they don’t want to. I’m continually surprised that that people will use technology but still be resistant to using the technology or learning about new technology. This is the continuing challenge of convincing people that change and new technology can be a good thing.
When I’m not reading textbooks on information technology I’m looking at information on literacy and information literacy. The thought that keeps popping up for me is ‘how can technology be best utilised to aid in literacy learning and information literacy’. Literacy encompasses such a large area that I feel like I’m drowning. The issue becomes also that if we are to use technology to teach people literacy then we need to be sure that the public knows how to use the technology in the first place. It’s no use to assume that because someone knows how to send an email, for example, that they know how to search for information on the internet or where they actually type the address of the search engine to use. There is no guarantee that the person even knows how to use a computer. This brings you to first having to make sure that there is basic computer literacy there in the first place so that the person can benefit from the information literacy training being provided.
We are so used to thinking that everyone knows how to use a computer that you have to stop yourself and realise that there are those who do fall into the ‘digital divide’ area who don’t know or aren’t proficient in using the digital technology but aren’t comfortable letting you know that this is the case that they will hide this. Finding the best way to reach out to these groups and let them know that you can gain the skills at a library is something that needs to happen and needs to be done in various ways to make people comfortable in approching the institution to gain the skills. Literacy starts early but it certainly is never to late. At the moment I’m reading a paper from the NSW Adult Literacy & Numeracy Council Seminar from last year (2010) by Mylee Joseph “Family literacy who cares! the role of public libraries in fostering family literacy” on family literacy and early literacy but I’ve got others still waiting to be read on various aspects of literacy. Needless to say I’m continually wondering how best to reach people. More to think about I guess.
My New Years resolution was to do more blog posts but unfortunately life happened. This year has really been a whirl of activity and I don’t know where the time has flown. With settling into a new job and trying to work out what is going on there, studying again, activities with the kids and the professional activities organised with ALIA Sydney the time has really flown. I’ve also committed to joining in on the #blogeverydayofjune for ALIA Sydney and will post on the ALIA Sydney blog on 18 June. I will though try to blog on this blog as well as much as I can. #blogjune