Friday, July 22, 2005

Services in, services out

As librarians, our "product" is the suite of services we offer our patrons. As good librarian-marketers, we need to make sure that we manage those services carefully.

In the business world, if a product were terrible we'd be losing money on it and we'd probably decide to toss it. What happens in the library world when our services aren't effective? Often, we keep letting those services hang around while trying to add new ones to our offerings. Obviously, this strategy (or lack of one) isn't very practical as it stretches already limited resources too thin and doesn't further our objectives.

This is where strategic planning and service planning come into play. I ran across an article today in Searcher called, "Libraries and their service portfolios: getting the right mix." You have to pay for the article if you don't have a subscription, but it's full of worthwhile pointers. In it, the authors demonstrate the importance of aligning services with objectives and ditching the ones that don't provide value to patrons.

To better align your services with your objectives, it's important to have a strategic plan. If you missed Pat Wagner's free webcast called Fast, Cheap and Decent Strategic Planning, I recommend that you take a look at the archive. It's well worth it! I know I'll be putting it to use.

It's sometimes hard to let go of services that we've worked hard to develop or that have been around a long time, or ones that just seemed so darn neat! But if we look at services from the patrons' points of view, we can get a sense of where the value truly lies and streamline our offerings so that can we do a lot more with less.

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