I’m still focused on Digital First. Here are some things to think about as your library or organization moves closer to emphasizing digital.
- Digital is just as important as physical or in-person. This is a big one for libraries, since the great majority of us have big investments in a physical space.
- Budgeting for digital. This is still a big adjustment for some of us. For example, if we buy 20 new books, 5-10 of those might be digital. This is a big shift from more of a “buy 20 new books …. Oh yeah, and maybe some digital books too.”
- Big shift for classes and events. For example, if we do 5 storytimes, 1-2 might be digital, and the others could be in-person. Not “Do 5 storytimes … oh, and we also need a digital one if we have time.” Digital comes first (because it can be posted and promoted immediately). Or at least, do the physical one and record it while doing it live, so you can share it later. Same thing with our other classes and events.
- Focus on convenience first. Make it as easy as possible for the customer. Digital is open 24/7 (depending on the service – no one needs to answer a reference question at 2am on a Sunday!).
- Reference questions are format-neutral. All formats are equal – text, Facebook Messenger, email, chat, phone … all on equal footing as traditional in-person questions.
- New services should have a digital component. For example, curbside pickup. There are a TON of apps to help with this, and it gets you to a digital first approach (since the service starts with digital).
- Staffing for digital. If you are emphasizing digital … you need appropriate staffing levels to handle things like content creation, digital purchasing, website admin work, etc. Someone has to build and maintain the digital building, social media tools, API calls, back-end upgrades, plugin updates, making digital content look good, etc. Warning – this point will definitely lead you back to point #2, budgeting!
Figure out what works best
One more thing to think about with Digital First and Digital And. Work on figuring out what the best model for the service is – is it digital, physical, or hybrid? With Digital And…, sometimes digital is the best delivery method, and sometimes physical is the best.
For example, think about grocery shopping:
- Digital First sometimes works best: I love ordering groceries online (starting online = digital first), and then using Curbside Pickup to get them. It’s a digital first service and it’s very convenient – it saves me time.
- In-person sometimes works best: Sometimes it’s better doing it myself. If I want specific items, like an avocado, I need to actually enter the store so I can find a ripe one. There’s no way to say “please get me a brown, ripe avocado” using curbside pickup on an app. It’s too specific for digital (at the moment).
Lots of shifting here! Most likely, you have started to think about some of these, or have at least lived them out during the pandemic. What’s next for your library? Make sure it lives in the best place (physical, digital, or hybrid).
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