It is no longer acceptable to simply expect that patrons will meet us half way in order to access what we offer. It’s actually not even safe to assume that all of our patrons will even come into the library at all (outreach librarians are all too aware of this).
When we think about service delivery nowadays, we define “reach” in a new way. Web 2.0 gave us so many more options, and smartphones have changed everything.
We must now be at a patron’s finger tips, a click away. We must also be configurable, customisable, able to become the perfect fit for an individual patron. Ideally we become an integral part of a patron’s personal information management habits. We become familiar, and part of the landscape; an obvious and naturally accepted presence.
But really…. what does this literally mean and how is it even achievable?
City public libraries are doing a great job, but we don’t all have their budget. My advice is to do your best and attack the no-brainers first, such as:
1. Key library apps must be compatible with Apple AND Android (and Windows devices too, if possible).
2. The OPAC must be mobile friendly. Pick a system that is. If yours isn’t, consider switching to a new product.
3. Use video to convey a “how to” (rather than a page of text), and put all the videos into a YouTube channel, Vimeo library, and any other video platform you think your patrons might be using.
4. Tweet new video additions. Tweet key new purchases. Tweet everything!
5. Take lots of entertaining photos of your library, and push the photos to all the main social media platforms. Not only can a picture say a thousand words, but people love looking at photos (in this case, amateur works better than professional).
6. Meet your patrons where they are. Don’t expect them to come to your website and click on the ‘ask a librarian’ button! Communicate with your patrons via social media. ..on their platforms of choice. I would love to see a big screen with multiple feeds clocking over at the front desk!
“Ubiquitous library” has a lot to do with smartphones. If we aren’t on a student’s phone, we don’t exist. That’s actually true for most of our student body.
So we must look at reach as similar to stalking, but in a good way… we must:
– get to know them
– talk to them online
– follow their follows
– look up their likes
– invite them to comment
– offer online events
– share ideas and opinions
– start conversations
Ubiquitous librarianship is of course about a lot more than just social media, but for those of us who are just making a start with this, it’s a very good place to begin. In a school library setting, you’ll need to work within the school’s policies and ensure best practice. Many of your students will not legally be able to sign up for accounts on certain social media platforms. If your LMS has social media plugins or features, take advantage of them. It is tricky to navigate this territory as a school librarian, but a lot can be achieved nevertheless.