Lead the way: 4 ways your library can evolve and thrive in the future

1. Embrace sustainability.
As long-standing community resources, libraries are well placed to drive a focus on sustainability, both within their own operations and as community leaders. Groups like the Ivy Plus Sustainability Working Group are leading the sustainability charge in academic libraries, while public libraries around the world are embracing local green initiatives and community education. One easy sustainability win for libraries is to provide digital content through e-books and digital newsstands like PressReader. This not only reduces waste and operational costs, but also exponentially expands the number of publications available to patrons and, best of all, the number of people who can concurrently access them.

2. Adapt to meet the habits and needs of today’s demographic.
Marc Andreessen, a well-known Silicon Valley investor, wrote a widely- shared article entitled, ‘Why Software is Eating the World.’  He pointed out that “today, the world’s largest bookseller, Amazon, is a software company… [and] today’s largest video service by number of subscribers is a software company: Netflix.” He went on to emphasize the enormous role that software will continue to play in revolutionizing or – at very least – challenging well established industries and organizations around the world. Libraries are no exception.

So how do you decide where to focus your library’s resources in order to evolve along with technology? The key is to understand who your patrons are, who they will be, and what they want. Earlier this year, PewResearch released the results of a detailed analysis they conducted on American public libraries and their patrons. They identify a number of trends that are relevant to libraries of all types and in all variety of locations. Interestingly, PewResearch found that 10% of the population fell into the ‘Library Lover’ category – highly engaged users who make the most use of their local library’s services and care most deeply about its role in their community. These Library Lovers are on average younger than the rest of the population, are very frequent internet users, and make significant use of mobile devices.

Second only to the Library Lovers in engagement with their local libraries are a group that PewResearch calls ‘Information Omnivores.’ They make up 20% of the general population, and at an average age of 40, are again younger than the general population. They’re particularly fond of technology; 90% of them are on the internet every single day and nearly half have a tablet device. The key to building and sustaining a great relationship with these two groups lies in embracing technology.

3. Stay ahead of the technological curve.
As a generalization, PewResearch found that people with higher levels of education were more likely to be avid library users. They also found that in many cases those with above-average education and lower income levels were more likely to feel that the library’s services were particularly important to them. This suggests that there is a huge opportunity for libraries who are willing to embrace it: namely, driving engagement by making high-quality content as accessible as possible to their wider community. This means meeting your most engaged demographics where they are – online.

Our relationship with information has changed significantly in recent years. People expect to be able to find an unlimited amount of information quickly, easily and with minimal effort. Libraries can easily continue to be the leading information resource in their communities, meansby adapting to make quality content easier than ever to find and delivering things that the internet on its own cannot. Offering PressReader to patrons, for example, is an easy way to instantly provide unlimited digital access to over 3,000 current newspapers and magazines in over 60 languages from 100 countries around the world. Forward-thinking librarians often bring in tablets and set up digital reading zones where patrons can access news and information on the spot. Your ‘Library Lovers’ and ‘Information Omnivores’ will thank you.

4. Extend your community impact beyond your physical location.
An opinion piece published by Public Libraries Online encouraged librarians to think about ways they could meet their patrons where they are, thereby extending their reach beyond the traditional bricks-and-mortar physical location.  There are plenty of ways to do this. Get creative about social media. Offer an informative podcast or a series of YouTube episodes with a local focus. With PressReader, users can even access any publication on their own devices (smartphones, tablets and laptops alike) while physically located in your library, and can download publications and articles to take with them and read offline.

Like any organization, libraries can benefit their communities and their patrons enormously by innovating and offering access to quality information. Your library can be up and running with PressReader right away – no fancy hardware required. Learn more, or contact us today.