Keeping your library alive


As a member of the Special Libraries Association, I receive the monthly journal Information Outlook. I look forward to receiving each issue, as it’s always chock full of interesting and informative articles of relevance to me in my current position. This month’s issue has an article about how the Washington State Library turned itself around, from being about to close permanently, to inventing a new role: Keeping a State Library Open by Duane McCollum (must be a member to log in).

One paragraph in particular resonated with me:

…Libraries must market their services, promote their value, focus on the information needs of their constituency, and offer things unavailable anywhere else. … (p. 13)

This should be the mantra of all special libraries.

So this morning I tried something new, “focussing on the information needs of my constituency”: Once a week, I compile all the new decisions released in our province and send them to lawyers in my firm. This week, I added a brief note explaining the decision, so my users could quickly glance at the decision and decide if they even needed to open it.  It only added a few more minutes to my assignment, as I was already reviewing each decision anyway, and added a ton of value to what my users received. Something unavailable elsewhere? Not really, but no one else took it on. And if my firm thought about reducing the hours of their library, I think I’d have a whole bunch of champions saying they couldn’t do without me!

And in the long run, that’s how you keep a special library open.

~ Karen


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