Developing libraries and librarians:
learning from the past and building
the future
Norma McDermott
CILIPS June 12, 2012
Enriching Society: the conflict
• Libraries are centred on helping users to
develop clear thinking and good judgement
• 21st Century life is centred on maximising
feeling and towards instant perception
Our challenge
• We struggle against a negative or even an
invisible identity
• How do we promote/ actualise our value?
• Our strengths and gifts may not have to
change very substantially but..
• Our ability to persuade and influence
champions is critical to success in the crowded
Framing this agenda
• Policy questions around user centred thinking
• Growing the library brand while overcoming
fragmentation in the library sector
• Influencing opinions and outcomes
• Factoring the staff and user input
• Examples of the Irish library solutions
Library policy questions
Do libraries provide the service people need?
That is of benefit to society?
What barriers are there?
How is the service likely to change?
Will libraries be bypassed?
How will we fund improvements?
More questions
• In the knowledge society, where does the
library fit in ?
• How should we prepare?
• What is our guiding purpose?
• How do we support it?
• Learning role(s)?
• Staff skills and training: optimising our value?
• How can we best market our services?
And more…
• Library’s role in cultural development?
• The arts and heritage services?
• Patient health self management: mobile
technology and patient narratives
• What are yours?
• Knowing the right questions matters as much
as knowing the answers
Scenario 1
• Scenario 1: Fight our corner!
• Access and availability are crucial: be relevant
to users
• What are your values?
• Gateway to the local authority/ parent body…
• A playful yet profound offer
Alternative Option
• Scenario 2: Make little/no changes
• Little persuasion and influence
• Digital tool knowledge and the internet
provide the solutions
• Cultural thinking and social engagement
bypasses libraries
• A cabinet of curiosities…
Useful Content Provision
• A rationale for libraries
• Message: Libraries are an antidote to passive
consumption. An open and humane service.
• Competition for resources and positioning
• Challenge our invisibility among influencers
• Libraries are an antidote to passive consumption
• Collaboration works!
• Invest in constant user testing.
Learning Solutions
• Specialised resources, less formal branded
• Changing contexts, blurred boundaries in
solving demand led issues
• Reverse the alchemy: we cannot reduce deep
content to catalogues and metadata
• Packaging matters.
The marketing drive: we will continue
to enrich
• A valuable space for all.
• Increasing usage and positive visibility.
Adding value in the community, academy.
Human element. Harnessing goodwill.
• Allies: the message is conveyed differently by
• User engagement, VFM, Optimising reach
• Growing the brand is about relationships.
• Online campaign Emails (67%), social networking
and blogs (63%), search engine optimisaton
• Facebook (70%), Twitter and Linked In (61%),
YouTube (44%), Apps (25%)
• Commentariat otherwise stereotypes libraries.
Direct, interactive and incremental messaging .
• Factor in staff time, mentoring, coaching, support
from parent body, other allies.
The User Experience
What do we observe, change, evaluate?
Test the use of services and staff input
Inventive applications
Direct communications and feedback both
• Relevant programming builds user loyalty and
Marrying the demand and the solution
• Effective teamwork
• Innovation and evaluation are key
• The dynamics matter: mutual understanding
and respect
• Libraries are trusted, convivial spaces
• Honouring the present and the past, looking
to the future
• A global brand with a contemporary offer
• Branching Out libraries
• Academic Libraries: Philanthropy
• Emerging spaces and campus/ start up
companies, prizes, sponsorship
• Europeana
• Test beds, research observatories
• Software solutions, new apps
• Replicating knowledge development models
• Highlighting new methodologies
Consolidation of input
Irish Libraries & Allies
Adult Learning Festival :February
E learning @ the library free for all. : all year round
University and public library learning February to May Listen to participants of the NUI
Maynooth Library Initiative from the Kildare Library on RTE's Drive Time. Listen Here
Seachtain na Gaeilge , March
Irish Book Club Movement & Festival :March
IMPAC Award :May / June Winner to be announced
Irish Heritage Week : August
Irish Childrens’ Book Festival: October
Irish Science Week: November
Library Ireland Week, November
The Gathering 2013
Music PAL
Resolving the Conflict
• Libraries are centred on
helping users to
develop clear thinking
and good judgement
• 21st Century life is
centred on maximising
feeling and towards
instant perception
• Engage, Persuade and
influence outcomes
• We are well worth the
• Build the brand
• Factor in staff time and
• Bring the users with you
• Bon Voyage!