Week 6 Thing 15: Library 2.0

When I drafted this post last week I wrote about how PLCMC has already become a model of Library 2.0. We have gaming for teens and adults, we have an ATM and coffee bar at Main Library. I can finally answer my cell phone and not be glared at by angry patrons who have been scolded for using their phones.

But then I read Questing Librarian's post on this topic and my eyes were opened a little more. Library 2.0 is about more than gaming night at the library. If you have not yet subscribed to Christie's blog--do it now. Here are just a few of the things she wrote that really summed up Library 2.0 for me.

...make the library where you want to be in real life...I want a community space that's buzzing with programming hipness and sound proof areas for quiet study to reach that "zen" state of lifelong learning. I want good natural lighting, plenty of windows, and comfortable chairs. Take that zen feeling and make an enclosed Japanese style tea garden or an outdoor cafe. Have access to porches that open onto an arboretum with picnic benches and electrical outlets on the outside. I want all of that plus an information hub that is second to none. If I want to learn how to paint I can find it--online or with a guidebook and have access to digital tools to create on the spot. If I want to understand how DNA makes the world go round I should be able to find it at home, at work, or wherever I am. If the library doesn't have a book I want, I would like to walk over to a bookmaker machine, type in the ISBN and the machine prints it in 15 minutes--cataloged and ready to check out. Libraries can become the new star attraction that will put a city on the map. Make it something that every visitor will put on their "must see and do" list.

PLCMC is taking giant leaps in the right direction, but we still have a way to go. Just the other day I overheard a patron tell another patron, "I love this library. Every time I come to Charlotte I have to stop and see this library." How great is that?

I have never been one to visit libraries while on vacation, but next week I'm going to Seattle, and guess what's the first thing on my list to see!

So what are my thoughts about Library 2.0?

First of all, we cannot think of public libraries as being just a function of local government anymore. Budget shortfalls have effected libraries for years, but since 9/11 Americans have been paying a higher price for security. Let's face it, even though we currently have strong community support for our libraries, if we face another attack like 9/11 the government is going to want more and more money to protect our country.

Public libraries need to find ways to become self-funded. Information should always remain free, but we need to look into other markets where we can cross over and generate a profit. Coffee bars, snack bars, merchandising, book sales, sales of office supplies. I know what you are thinking, "We don't want to compete with Kinko's and Starbucks. We don't have the staff. We don't have the resources."

Great so let's bring these resources into the library. Why not let Kinko's set up a copy and print shop in a small corner of the library? How many patrons have come to the library to print a resume on fancy resume paper only to find out that we do not allow them to use special paper in our printers? Where do we send the patrons? Kinko's.

Each time we refer a patron to another business, we should start thinking of a way to bring that service or business into the library. This builds the foundation towards Library 2.0 and provides the resources to pay for not only Library 2.0 but Library 3.0 and beyond.

What else does Library 2.0 mean? Empowering not only patrons but staff. Our library provides the most outstanding customer service of any organization that I have ever seen. But do we provide the same service to internal customers? Not always. If our vision is to be the best library in America, we have to start by being the best staff. We need to support and encourage each other. We need to realize that yes we are all individuals and we may work in different branches or departments, but we are individuals, branches, and departments working towards the same common goal. The best library in America. The best staff in America.