It's my own fault. I try to outdo myself each time. I raise the bar and then ask everyone to reach higher. It is starting to be our reputation. We're willing to take chances. We're a small library with a large outlook. So I've been thinking quite a bit about the next big thing. What can we do for our community that is not only needed and wanted, but also unique? I have ideas but, in the midst of Discover Earth, just thinking about them is exhausting.
This leads me back to the question that I'm constantly asking myself: In 2013, what should public libraries be doing? My biggest concern is relevancy. My second biggest concern is awareness. This has to be the order of things because, without relevancy, there's isn't much to make people aware of.
In January of this year, I presented my board with my annual performance goals for the year. I try to make it easy and even provide them with the benchmarks with which they can measure them. At the end of the year, I present them with an evaluation of the goals using the formula I outlined in the beginning of the year. This year, one of my goals was to accomplish the majority of the LibraryEdge Benchmarks for Public Access Technology. With everything else that's been going on at the library, we've still managed to work on these.
Last month, the state offered each library system the opportunity to select 2 libraries to participate in a pilot project - the LibraryEdge Benchmarks. So we volunteered, mostly because it would help us in our pre-existing goal. This type of initiative is, however, not the next big thing. It is something libraries do in the background. It's a shame - because it really does add value to library services. But it isn't shiny and sparkly. You can't have a grand opening for public access technology. And this type of thing requires a ton of work to create awareness.
I'd love to make the Benchmarks the next big thing, but it's just not sexy enough. I'm already trying to figure out how to wrap this whole thing into a package that people can celebrate. This is what library school doesn't teach us - how to market something that's really important to a community that is accustomed to sound bytes and fireworks. That, I guess, is what I'll be working on. Meanwhile, however, I just want to get through Discover Earth.
If your library is participating in the LibraryEdge program, either through the state pilot or on your own, I'd love to hear from you!