What Can A Library Do?

OstrichA couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to work with Dan Rasmus on uncertainty and the future(s) of libraries. Picking up on a question he posed, and reframing it somewhat, I would ask that we consider these questions (an interesting exercise for senior staff perhaps).

If I was a mayor or city manager, or a president or provost, or a superintendent or principal, and had serious issues to address, and budgetary pressures:

What would we hire a library to do? (precisely, with accountability and measurements, what problems would be solved?)

Who else might apply? (removing blinkers, if money is on the table, what other agencies might reasonably step forward, in whole or in part?)

What is the unique value proposition? (is there something that only libraries and librarians can deliver? Or is this something that is shared or even duplicated with others?)

How do we measure success? (what is the return on investment? how do we ensure that we make a unique difference?)

These indeed are the questions, worded differently, that are being asked.

How do we respond?

About Ken Haycock

Ken Haycock is currently Research Professor of Management and Organization at the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, where he coordinates graduate programs in Library and Information Management.


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