Thursday, August 20, 2009

Are your eyes glazed over yet?

Welch, L. (2006). Groundwork: the situation analysis. In the other 51 weeks: A marketing handbook for librarians (pp. 25-43). Wagga Wagga: Centre for Information Studies.

This article looks at planning for the library from a marketing point of view.

Good marketing relies on making the client paramount in our considerations. We can think of our (the library's) client as the school itself, or our clients as our students and teachers. I think we probably need to look at it both ways.

The SWOT technique helps us to analyse our current situation:
S - strengths
W - weaknesses (clients go elsewhere) This is quite an issue for a school library. How many students or teachers search independently for information or reading material at home on the internet or at the public library etc.
O - opportunities (new trends to be capitalised on) This also seems quite applicable to the school library scenario. Often by the time schools get new technologies, they are not so new anymore!
T - threats (things that effect the library's ability to deliver) Again very relevant. Budget and staffing shortfalls are obvious threats, as is the necessity for teacher librarians to be scheduled for RFF.

The library's goals must be consistent with the school (of course). The 'success' of the library depends on its performance being recognised within the context of the goals of the school.

Schools with a strong culture have clear identifiable values. Unfortunately some schools have struggled with change and have not got a clear vision or mission. A mission statement should be brief, distinctive, enthusing and realistic. It should state the basic philosophy and purpose of the organisation. It should include both an opportunity and a statement of commitment.

Changes in technology, legislation, and social trends (etc) can change the organisational environment in which the library operates. The school itself must cope with these changes too.

In order to honestly appraise the current performance of the library, we must:
* List the client groups that the library serves and identify their real needs.
* List the current services and products provided.
* Identify the true cost of these services.
* Identify who uses the services.
* Ask 'What is the gap between what our clients want and what we offer?'.
* Consider what should be retained, what should be modified and what should be discontinued.
* Ask 'What new offerings could we develop?'.

To transform rhetoric to action: translate the mission statement into specific objectives, then make goals which are quantifiable and state who, what when and how. Finally, decide on how resources will be allocated to meet the different goals.

Re-reading what I have written, there's a bit of this and a bit of that here. It all makes sense to me. I think though, that teachers and others working in schools are often so overworked and rushed that they seldom can take time to think through issues like this in a systematic way. I think they could relate to the cry, "We don't have time to do it properly!" The next challenge is to work out how to make the time to do it properly.


Witch Baby said...

You know I never stopped to consider the strengths or weaknesses of my schools library. This is truly why I love stopping by your blog - You make me think.

Fiona said...

Well I'm glad that you're enjoying it! I wish my blog had a bit more 'entertainment factor' at the moment.