[updated December 2017]
Another North Dakota Library Association (NDLA) conference is in the books, and what a wonderful conference it was! There were great keynote speakers and sessions. The 2017 theme was: Libraries Transform. The idea of transforming ourselves and libraries was prevalent during the pre-conferences, keynotes, and sessions.
For me, John Spears, Chief Librarian and CEO of the Pikes Peak Library District, kicked off the transformation subject with his pre-conference session “The Nitty-Gritty of Transforming Your Library, Your Community…and Yourself.” In his session, Mr. Spears said don’t transform and seek change just for the sake of doing it. Change for a reason. Transform to meet a need.
So what are some “trending” library transformations? Some trendy transformations include (all of which were discussed at some point at the conference):
Do away with overdue fines
Ask yourself these questions: What is the point of overdue fines? Do overdue fines work?
Basically, library fines exist to punish patrons who did not abide by the rules. The patron is late returning the book and potentially causing another patron to wait even longer for the item. But should libraries be places that punish patrons? Is that their purpose?
Fines function almost as a scare tactic. Patrons can fear fines, and as a result, they can fear libraries. Return the book or else! Return the book or we’ll send the Seinfeld library cop after you! Does this scare tactic work? In one way it does. Think about this: it can scare people away from the library completely.
Fines are stressful (for patrons and libraries). Think about how much time and effort is spent on fines by library staff. Is that time/ effort worth it?
Is this a radical idea that may ruffle some feathers? Possibly. Nobody ever said transformation was easy. But can change result in better outcomes (even if the change seems scary)? Absolutely.
Do some research on this topic and conduct a test to see if this is right for your library. Many libraries across the country are already abolishing fines.
- Fallon, C. (2017). Libraries are dropping overdue fines – but can they afford to? Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2i9vpmc
- Graham, R. (2017). Long overdue: Why public libraries are finally eliminating the late-return fine. Slate. Retrieved from http://slate.me/2lfNcEL
- Marx, A.W. (2017). The case against library fines – according to the head of the New York Public Library. Quartz. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2kkJ5Ju
- Pyatetsky, J. (2016). The end of overdue fines? Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2xDxb6i
Genrefication (do away with Dewey and LC)
Genrefication is the process of organizing, classifying, and categorizing items into genres. This is the bookstore method of organizing books. This classification is much easier for patrons, and this is why bookstores use it. To the bookstores, when patrons can find books easier they have a better experience and are likely to buy more books.
Organizing books by genres and subgenres makes it much easier to browse, and a lot of times this is what patrons want to do. Many patrons do not have experience with Dewey or LC. They may have learned it, but that was many years ago. Or they’ve never learned it so why are they expected to know it?
It is also important to point out that children do not learn about decimals until mid-elementary school.
Genrefication is particularly popular in school libraries and other libraries with smaller collections. Libraries who have switched to this method have reported increased circulation.
A SOPAC, or shared online public access catalog, allows patrons to add their own keywords and subject headings. This was brought up during the John Spears pre-conference. The example he provided is “heart attack.” The official subject heading for “heart attack” is “myocardial infarction.” It’s possible the average patron may now know or remember this. Why not make your online catalog more user-friendly?
This trendy transformation was discussed on the last day of the conference during Doug Johnson’s keynote: “Changed But Still Critical: Brick and Mortar Libraries in the Digital Age.” Doug Johnson is the Director of Technology for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage (MN) Public Schools. He said during his presentation that the layout of the library matters. Some of the things he said is to do away with the traditional study carrels and invest in short shelving with wheels for improved mobility when the library is reorganized down the road. Basically he said to think outside of the box instead of doing things the old fashioned way.
Why continue to do something because it’s something you’ve always done? If you think about it, that’s not a good reason.