Developing an Online First Mentality, Part Three: Everything Online

I’ve been talking about developing an online first mentality for your library. In part one, I introduced the concept. In part two, I gave some examples of how it might work in a library setting.

In part three, let’s make sure that everything your library does is represented online. At least, all the parts that customers interact with.

What’s that mean? Think about what your library does for a second. Is everything – programs, events, services, etc. – represented online? Can you sign up for them online? If not – how come?

Sometimes, a library doesn’t represent a service online … because it might become too popular. Seriously. I’ve heard of libraries purposely NOT sharing something online because of capacity issues.

It might be a book group with limited seating. It might be a service that the library couldn’t handle if the service got too popular. Sorta like the In-N-Out Burger secret menu (if it wasn’t shared online) – if you happen to know about it, we’ll do it. We just won’t tell you that’s an option.

There are a few ways to handle those situations:

  1. Consider NOT doing it anywhere. Either promote it and do it well, or don’t do it at all. Maybe you should be focusing staff energy in other areas?
  2. Consider ramping it up. Gina Millsap, my library’s CEO, likes to say that we “organize around the work.” So if there’s more work to be done in a certain area, we shift staff to go do that. You could also hire more staff – if the service is truly popular and worthy of that type of investment (and, of course, if the powers-that-be say yes to that pricey request).
  3. Consider creating an alternative. Back to the book group idea for a second. My library does book groups. If more people want to start a book group, we have a cool service called Book Group in a Bag. We stuff 10 copies of a book in a bag, along with some “how to run a book group” instructions, and let customers check it out … and start their own book groups.

SO can you represent everything your library does online? I think so – get busy!

Photo by Steve Rhodes

  • Shawn Michaels

    Hi, brother .. many many thanks to you for the awesome information. great read hope i will be more helpful .
    Enrollment leads

  • Jennifer Ruthenberg

    I think if you are going to put an event online then you should think of every possibility that way you know what you will do if you get a large response. I don’t think there should ever be a situation where libraries say they won’t do something because they think they would get too many people.

  • davidleeking

    Good point – plan for success!

  • Jennifer Ruthenberg

    That’s right, I live by the motto “there are no problems only solutions” , “it’s not what life throws at you but the way you handle it”. I like the idea of the 10 books in a bag idea for helping people to form their own reading groups as well, that’s really thinking outside the box. Thanks for all your great posts. I really enjoy reading them, they are very informative.