Just Ask – So Simple!

Thanks to Judith for pointing out Kathy’s editorial from the most recent issue of CIL.

“In the library world, many processes are still done the way they were years ago. The old adage ‘because we’ve always done it that way’ still holds sway, and entangled layers of bureaucracy can make real change incredibly slow, if no impossible. But as I preach in keynotes and workshops while I’m wearing my other hat, as editor of the Marketing Library Services newsletter, what you’ve ‘always done’ doesn’t cut it anymore. You’ve all heard that sermon before, but hearing it doesn’t really help. What you need is a place to start. How should you change? What should you change? What do people want you to do differently?

“That’s why I chose the theme Finding Out What People Want From Library Technology for this issue. It’s perfect for January; the month of changing and renewing and starting fresh. And I have the only logical answer about where to start the process. Start with your patrons. Your collections and services are all for them, so update them to match patron wants and needs.

“But what do these users want and need? Even more important, what do nonusers want and need that you’re not offering? You could read other people’s research, you could make assumptions, or you could guess. Or you could do the only sensible thing—just ask them!

(emphasis added by me).

I’m shocked by how few of us actually ask our patrons/web visitors what they want. I’ve also seen that when one method of asking doesn’t work (survey, poll, etc) others are just thrown to the wayside – just because your patrons don’t answer your survey doesn’t mean they don’t have an opinion – it means they don’t have the time to fill out your survey – so come up with another way to gather information about their needs/wants.

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