Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


Information Services in a Larger Context: What in the world is affecting the work we do? - Wagner

Innovating for Success – Pat Wagner
Okay. These notes sound like a motivational speech. But consider this: they're the notes of a skeptic so how exciting must the speaker have been?

Pat Wagner started out with some responses to George Needham's presentation. She was a really exuberant presenter and it is a bit hard to make a cohesive report but here goes:

Just because you’ve experienced something doesn’t mean it is true – just that it happened. You need to look at statistics to get any idea about what reality is. That said, just looking at stastics doesn't always give a great picture about the specifics so it is good to couple the broad overview of statistical data with the specificity of individual interviews.

This quest for quickness in product delivery emerged as a trend in the 1950s. We're still struggling to deliver products and services with great speed.

2004 – now more money in interactive games than in movies. Games adaptations of games are in development three or four years before movies come out. Collaboration is a key element of gaming culture - what can libraries learn from this? What about true collaboration with library users? Can we put actual decision-making power in the hands of the public.

Another feature of today's world is the shift in status
Out – age and years of experience
In - knowledge
People respect those who earn respect not those they're told to respect. How does this impact us in libraries? The public expects results (speed, acuracy) and respects
us when we deliver. Staff doesn't automatically respect the almighty MLS.

People are bypassing degreed professionals – pharmacists, doctors, lawyers and librarians

Customer Survey
What do customers want? (not from their library - from their life)
Who are their competitors?
What do they spend most of their time doing?
What do they want to spend more time doing?

Leave the building with the survey, don't just ask the people who are known users. Ask potential users, ask invisible users. Immerse yourself in the culture of the people you’re serving. Try to get into their heads. When you know what is important to people you'll know what they want from your institution and you'll be in a better position to deliver what they want to them - in the way that they want it.

Prepare for the future now. Preparing for new tasks means abandoning old tasks. Pat used the analogy of pioneers who were using wagons well suited to flat plains regions. Those wagons worked perfectly in their original context. As the pioneers travelled west they would encounter new terrains. The wagons wouldn't work well in mountains. If they waited until they were in the mountains to refit the wagons, they'd be out of luck. Sometimes you need to fix something that isn't broken so that you can continue to provide a service in the future.

Preparing for the future probably means giving up some things we hold dear. What might your library have to give up? Could be concrete things like books, the Dewey decimal system, reference desks, programs. In most cases giving patrons decision making power means giving up control.

Look at what you’re doing – How is it working for you? For the patrons?


  • At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    you have an insane amount of energy and passion. you need to run for ala president next year!

  • At 3:36 PM, Blogger Sophie Brookover said…

    Aw. Thanks, but no thanks. I can do more good from where I am. Plus, I'm kind of busy next year -- you know, with having a baby & all. Also, to give credit where it's very much due, I'm not the only one covering the conference -- the most recent post is by the equally energetic Cathy Delneo!



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