Top 3 Challenges Facing Today’s Public Librarians

November 9, 2015 / by Lindsay Mullen

Let’s face it: it’s tough out there for a librarian. Whether it’s hosting story time for a group of rowdy kids or picking Kraft singles out of a returned DVD, you’ve got your hands full with the day-to-day realities of life at the public library. And yet, all librarians today are facing larger challenges as well. Today, we’re taking a look at the top four challenges for today’s public librarians—and sharing a few ways to combat them.

Budget cuts

The unfortunate fact is that around the country, budgets for public libraries are being slashed. This makes it harder to keep technology updated, provide great resources, fund new projects and even keep the library doors open.

If you’re facing budget cuts at your library, it can feel like the end of the world. However, you’ve still got options. Take a page from this public library that got creative after their funding was seriously downsized. They not only held fundraisers and book drives, but established a passport office and post office within their doors—driving hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. While this may be outside your wheelhouse, think outside the box when it comes to bringing in new sources of revenue.

Advances in digital media and technology

Librarians know the truth: just because more people are turning to digital resources like ebooks, podcasts and online databases for their information doesn’t mean that libraries are becoming obsolete. Instead, you’re taking advantage of this to invest in digital resources (including Mango) and giving a wide variety of people access to them. All good, right?

However, many people still see the library as a place to simply spend a day curled up with a good book. The main challenge isn’t that technology is advancing and libraries can’t keep up: it’s that libraries are having a hard time shaking their analog image in an increasingly digital world. Take steps to proactively combat that by opening up a makerspace and marketing it to your patrons, holding technology workshops and keeping your digital resources front and center.

Making an impact in the community

Librarians have an incredible opportunity to make their communities better. From career fairs and resume workshops to the everyday act of promoting literacy, your jobs are all about impact. And yet, it can be incredibly difficult to get the word out about all you do at your place of work—and that can lessen your impact.

Fear not: there are plenty of awesome ways to market your library that are easy on time and on budget. Embrace social media to reach your patrons digitally, and don’t be afraid to partner with local newspapers and magazines to get the word out about events and offerings you’ve got going on. Check out Mango Market as well: we’ve got all sorts of swag, decorations and ideas to help you promote your library (and our awesome product!) in your community.

Are you in need of some library inspiration? Check out our white paper: Branding Your Library: Insights from Today’s Top Librarians for some words of wisdom from the top librarians around the country!

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Topics: Public Libraries

Lindsay Mullen

Written by Lindsay Mullen

Lindsay Mullen is CEO of Prosper Strategies, working behind the scenes to support the Mango team's world of lovable language learning. A language aficionado herself, Lindsay oversees a team of marketers fluent in public relations, content development and strategy (and they speak some German, French, Spanish and Chinese as well.)

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