Yay! It’s 2022! Boo! We’re still in pandemic mode!
The last two years have been pretty weird, to say the least. And so far, it looks like 2022 might be yet another, let’s say, “interesting,” year.
But it’s also a year where libraries need to work on reconnecting with our communities, and figuring out what our new normal looks like. Here are some things I’m personally thinking about and/or working on in 2022:
1. Buying tech. My library has projects that we planned for last year, and are going to implement this year. But because of the pandemic, we need to plan way, way out. For example, we’re doing a technology update to our 2nd floor meeting rooms. The technology for that space (primarily the LCD projectors) I’m told might take us a good 6 months to get here!
We’re also working on opening a tech center that will be part recording studio, meeting space, and makerspace. We’re still planning for the tech needs in that space, and that technology might also take much longer to order than we think.
So – add some extra time in your planning process!
2. Reintroduce people to the library. We still need to remind people that we are here and have a multitude of services. Especially after many of our customers have moved to streaming services, ebooks, and online ways to do things. This is something my library will be working hard on this year.
3. Getting out into the community is more important than ever. Sorta connected to #2 – we need to leave our buildings and go where our customers are (as it is safe to do so, of course). That was talked about years ago (remember that whole “be where your customers are” thing?), but I think it’s something we still need to work on.
So … what’s your plan to get out of the building? That might mean virtual. It might mean going to places you haven’t gone before. It might mean different types of partnerships. And … it will take a lot of planning and action to do.
4. Formalizing remote work. My library now has our first telecommuting agreement, complete with a board policy about it. The last couple of years has shown us that at least some library employees can do their jobs from anywhere. So why not allow some staff to work from home if it makes sense?
But if you do that, there are a few details to figure out. For example, can you take library equipment home? Do you have enough broadband at home to do your job? How will your supervisor know what you are working on? How will virtual/hybrid meetings work?
Hopefully by now some of that has been figured out at your organizations. But my guess is that some of you still need to formalize it!
5. Digital First – not building first. I’ve been talking and writing some about digital first in the last couple of years (for obvious reasons). Make sure to prioritize the library … but not necessarily the building. For example, when my library was recently closed for New Years … it was mostly just the library building that was closed. I could still access my library account to put things on hold, I could do research via our databases, I could check out a bunch of econtent. I could interact with the library community on Facebook. I could turn things back in at any number of drop boxes around town. I could read about interesting-sounding books on our website.
Was the library really closed? Well … not so much. Only the building and the people-focused things were closed. We really need to make that switch from physical first to digital first (it can be a hard switch for a library to make).
6. Hiring is harder. I have an open position in my department right now (anyone want to come work for me?). The library actually has a number of jobs we need to fill. And our HR dept says this might not be an easy thing to do – because of the Great Resignation. Did you see that 4.5 million people quit their jobs in November (more on that here)? I’m not planning to do that any time soon (I like to eat and have health insurance). But be prepared – it might take longer than normal to hire.
7. Video! You need to be making video. Make some short YouTube videos showing how to do stuff at the library. Make some even shorter TikTok or Instagram videos that do similar things. Use Zoom for classes and events. Then see what sticks, and do more of that.
Saying this because it’s a low-hanging fruit (everyone reading this owns a great smartphone camera), but we really haven’t embraced video yet.
8. Time to set goals (and crush them). Finally, it’s time to set some goals and start implementing them. I know that some libraries are still in a holding pattern (because Covid).
But it’s time to start planning for the future again, if you haven’t started yet. My library has a new CEO, and we are starting to work on goals. First we’ll come up with a work plan for 2022. But we are also planning to create a true strategic plan, as well. If you don’t have goals … you can’t achieve them (ok, that was pretty cheesy).
So – that’s what is in my head for this year! What’s in yours? What is your library planning to do this year?