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Posts Tagged ‘digital skills’

A recent TEDx talk by Andrew Roskill: Get a read on this: Libraries bridging the digital divide set me thinking about what and how we are promoting libraries in our schools and, dare I say it, questioning whether we are ‘doing it’ the right way.

Quoting a PEW survey that 95% of people in our society think that libraries are important, Roskill goes on to quote an American Library Association study which found that only 52% of people said they weren’t using their library as much as they used to.  The big question he poses, of course, is why?

His answer is simple: there’s lots of competition out there with products that are easy, elegant and engaging meaning that people are ready to pay for those products which could otherwise be accessed in our libraries.   Qualifying this statement, he goes on to say that access to products in libraries are often complicated, requiring users to log into different websites or click on numerous links to get where they want to go or borrow what they want to borrow.  Making it easier for library patrons is really what he is on about.   Offering solutions, he urges libraries to adopt these suggestions:

  1. use apps: with mobile usage now surpassing desktop usage, our libraries need to follow suit
  2. embrace the 3 e’s (easy, elegant and engaging):  by providing products that are less clunky and more intuitive, library patrons will stay in the library and more importantly keep coming back
  3. content: rather than competing on best sellers, focus on a niche service provision
  4. curation: by utilizing the skills of library staff, libraries offer what their competition can’t: comprehensive collections
  5. physical presence: libraries have to maximize the advantage they have over their competition and to actively promote themselves for what they can give their community

While Roskill’s talk is focused on public libraries and how they play a pivotal role in teaching library patrons digital skills so that they can better traverse today’s workplace market, much of what he has to say is relevant to school libraries.

We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the ‘administrivia’ that is essential to ensuring that our libraries run smoothly.  In the process though, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture and how we are presenting that big picture to our library patrons.

After watching Roskill’s TEDx presentation, my thoughts run like this:

  1. apps are the way to go: if the library software being used in your library doesn’t have an app, change to a library software that does
  2. teach/demonstrate use of the library software app so that patrons can easily access the library database
  3. create easy to navigate library webpages: use icons rather than words to guide the user
  4. run regular demos showing how resources can be accessed via the library webpage
  5. incorporate passwords to databases into the library webpage so that access is smooth and simple
  6. actively market resources emphasizing their value to patrons: make it personal and use language easily understood
  7. make your library collection relevant to patrons by curating resources into relevant topics per year level
  8. utilize the library space: create a flow and a feel that is inviting
  9. ensure signage is clear so that resources are easily located
  10. make your library the hub of the school by regularly holding events, promotions and inspiring activities: make them want to be there!

While there are so many more thoughts and ideas rolling around my head, I will leave sharing them for another post.   Meantime, take the time to have a look at Andrew Roskill’s talk.  His message is clear and simple:

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