I’m sitting at the airport in Columbia, South Carolina, thinking about libraries. I’ve spent a great day with around 40 library directors throughout the Palmetto State who gathered together to wrestle with big issues. Melanie Huggins, director of the Richland County Public Library hosted, and Denise Lyons from the State Library of South Carolina brought me here.
We talked about creating powerful value messages, getting buy-in from staff and stakeholders and crafting message points.
I am amazed at two things: 1) we are all trying to crack the same nut; 2) libraries are eager to figure this out using limited resources – while understanding the value of a clear and concise marketing message.
Seems like everyone understands the need to define ourselves outside the usual parameters of value: historically we’ve said that libraries are where the public accesses reliable information sources. “We help navigate Google.”
Yet nearly all in the room agreed that this is no longer enough – maybe even true – because these aren’t the kinds of questions we are being asked today. Our public has learned to navigate the web and Smart phones; the library has to be about something more: something tied to community goals.
Figuring this out isn’t easy. It requires discipline to ask tough questions and honest assessment. What are the important issues facing your community today and how can you position your library to be the unmistakable answer to the problem?