One of the challenges facing public libraries is providing services that increase community prosperity. Though the uninformed might see public libraries as passé, they are still seen as trusted institutions in the community. It only makes sense that those in need would turn to these institutions to fulfill their needs, whether it is to learn a new skill or using an open area to collaborate with others.
An excellent way to show just how the library can help the community is the Personal Savings Calculator featured on the State of Florida Division of Library and Information Services. Adapting the Maine State Library’s calculator for Florida use, staff and library staff can now see exactly how much the library saves them. Though a simple spreadsheet could also show this information, I think the calculator really drives the point home by allowing users to see specifically how much they save.
I also feel that customers rarely understand the value of their library card, since I frequently help library customers who have spent years buying eBooks for their Kindle or other eReader device before they ever turn to the library for free content. In addition to this, I’ve investigated personally how much computer classes on advanced software, such as QuickBooks, can cost. Library customers could save hundreds of dollars a year easily by just attending digital literacy classes, instead of going to other institutions like universities or for-profit technology focused businesses in the area.
Databases can also save customers even more, especially with services like Lynda.com, which normally costs $250 per year of an annual subscription.
While I think the Personal Savings Calculator will really enlighten the community, I believe marketing plays a large part on increasing community prosperity. The services and resources public libraries offer can and often do make a large impact on society, but it all hinges on the community understanding exactly what their library card can offer them. Outreach and marketing campaigns should be happening regularly to help customers think of the public library first if they want to learn, create, and collaborate.
Greetings! My name is Alison J. Harris and I’m a librarian at a public library in Florida. I enjoy learning about new technology. Read more about me.