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.

2006-05-22

Meeting Ever-Changing User Expectations

In a recent post at Techessence.info, Thomas Dowling writes:



[M]eeting user expectations, no matter how quickly they change, is not only a Good Thing, but an absolute necessity. [emphasis mine.]


Now, he's writing about meeting user expectations with regard to technology, but clearly, there are Pop Culture applications to this statement, as well. It's been my experience that it's not hard for most public libraries to exceed user expectations in this area, actually.

Every time I go to a middle school or high school and ask the students what they want in the way of music, DVDs, and books, they are flabbergasted when they ask for artists like My Chemical Romance, or O.C. Mixes, or Season One of Grey's Anatomy or The Clique or the latest book by Sarah Dessen, and I tell them "yeah, we've got that, and that, and that, and that, too!" This is not run-of-the-mill pleasant surprise: their socks are well and truly knocked off.

The same goes for the many parents who stand before me in delighted astonishment when I cheerfully say, "all our programs are free!" Likewise for the senior citizens who register in droves for our computing classes. In many cases, for many age groups, many of us are already exceeding user expectations, but we can't be self-congratulatory about this, because we are doing such a terrible job of marketing and promoting these collections.

Blogs like Library Marketing, Creating Passionate Users, and The M Word help shift the discussion in the direction in needs to go (hey, Stephen Abram just blogged about these three, too -- spooky! In a good way!), but there's more work to be done. It's not just the work, it's the profession-wide shifting of mentality towards a model whereby it's not enough simply to have the materials people want (and to listen to them when they say they want something else) but it's essential to know how to make sure people know about what we have, and to get them talking about it. I'm hoping to get some more ideas from a book I'm reading, called Grapevine: The New Art of Word-of-Mouth Marketing. Review + summary to follow!

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