Last Friday I attended Library Camp! There were snacks (including fudge brownies!), music, and a ton of laughing and talking out of turn.
Okay fine, so it wasn’t camp per se…it was Staff Development Day for Loudoun County Public Library. Regardless, it was a wonderful day of learning.
Our County Administrator began the day’s session giving us an overview of where the county was in terms of budget (no increase for FY2012), capital projects (extension of the Metro down into Loudoun Co.), and more. He actually shocked the heck out of us (at 10am, mind you) when he said that the Board of Supervisors might mess with the library and county budget so much so that the new Gum Springs branch might not open as intended in December 2012. In fact, he said that, if the budget stays the same, in order to open Gum Springs the county would need to fire 12 FTEs elsewhere employed in the county (or open Gum Springs less 12 FTEs). That is a very scary prospect: both opening a library without a full staff and the idea of 12 other people in the county losing their jobs just so the library can open. I am totally pro-library, but I am also pro-employment. As a co-worker said during the Q&A session, “I don’t envy your job at all.”
Our keynote speaker was Ron Carlee, COO of the International City/County Management Association. He is a former county mgmt dude (yeah, that was his official title…) in a Northern VA county (Arlington, I think?) and has been in county/city mgmt for over 30 years. He had wonderful things to say about libraries and their role in communities as well as in the country. He talked a lot about digital inclusion, and how, without libraries, the USA would have no digital inclusion. Think about it: where else can a person (of any citizenship status, age, etc.) use a computer for free? Granted, public access computers are not limitless in terms of time (we give one hour sessions, with renewals only if we are not busy), and users cannot alter the computer’s settings or download software…but they have access to a computer with Internet access. Millions of people cannot afford this everyday necessity, so libraries need continued funding for this.
Furthermore, Carlee encouraged us to not only have access, but know what we (and our customers) can do with it. (This gave me the idea for a teen program titled ‘Beyond Facebook’: how to use everyday technology in new ways). Luckily I have a smart techie boyfriend who has agreed to help me work on this possible program.
My favorite part of the day was the breakout sessions. My first of two was Accidental Marketers with Kathy Dempsey. The information she gave us was a great follow-up to Ron Carlee’s talk, especially the aspect about needing to collect data on our customers to plan programs accordingly. Conduct focus groups, ask questions, collect suggestions…it is imperative that we ask our customers what they want. Furthermore, we need to know that customers will ask about programs, ‘What’s In It For Me?’ They won’t attend a program that does not serve them, their needs, or their interest in some major way. (I had previously had the idea of analyzing our non-fiction checkouts via our circulation software in order to determine what areas are of most interest to our adult population, and plan programs from there. This just re-enforced my idea!)
I’ll stop there because you all probably don’t care about the specifics of LCPL…so I will end with a ‘Thanks!’ to all those who hosted a fun, informative, snack-filled day. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to host a breakout session on working with and for teens. *fingerscrossed*