Monday, I leave Denver for Virginia Beach to talk to the public library there about Web 2.0 and how it can help them engage customers. I created an outline and entitled it Making Your Patrons More Than the Audience. I got an email back from Nancy, who has been working with me for the trip, saying that they refer to their patrons as customers. I gladly changed the wording of my presentation. It is nice that the mentality of patrons as customers is already in place in Virginia Beach.
I have long thought it short sighted of libraries not to admit that we are competing for people’s attention and that makes us like a business. If you follow that logic, our patrons are indeed customers. If we really planned things this way, would we offer different services?
I think that we would move a lot faster and keep up with demand better. In the real world, companies that do not keep up, go bankrupt and fail. In the library world, this does not happen, but you do become obsolete in your community. I think the ability of libraries to survive despite a lack of innovation has hurt our culture. I believe that is beginning to change because we are competing for people’s attention and money, but oh, the change is so very slow.
We need to start thinking like businesses and get over our hang-ups about that.
–Jane, well that post went off on a tangent!