Young Adult Library Services

Vol 15 No 1_Fall 2016

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Page 28 of 43

Shana Hinze When library sta embed themselves in the community everyone benefi ts. Librarians as Community Ambassadors A ll of these require a close look at the diverse needs of a specifi c community. And, they require using a variety of approaches to learn about those needs. Sometimes, community needs are easy to fi gure out, such as knowing that a commu- nity requires access to streaming video, to which a common library answer is offering the service Hoopla. Other times, needs of a specifi c community may be more diffi cult to determine and require an in-depth assessment and relationship building. Learning About Community Typical evaluation tools to learn about the community often include surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, meetings and informal conversations. These methods can provide valuable infor- mation and insight into the needs of a community and are necessary for growth. However, they may not be as effective in learning about a popula- tion's needs as one might expect. For example, when people respond to a survey or participate in a focus group on what services the library can offer to fi t their needs, they often limit their answers to ideas associated with a preconceived notion of the word "library." People think their answers must be in the traditional realm of possibilities, those with which they are familiar, such as programs or services related to ones already being offered. This mentality, of course, does not effectively support an ultimate goal of developing and implementing programs and services that the public truly needs. There is, however, another approach. It encompasses the general practice of going out into the community, joining neighborhood organizations and attending local meetings which can serve as an effective, grassroots method of discovering community needs. This activity, either in addition to tradi- tional assessment techniques or as a stand alone practice, allows library staff to obtain information directly from the source. Hearing parents speak about is- sues at a parent teacher meeting, for instance, helps libraries to design new services or programs based on spe- cifi c needs expressed in meetings. In my community, after delivering two A s libraries continue to shift ideology and re- consider traditional programs and services, several frameworks for the work of library staff and the role of the library come to mind. Libraries: • Serve as community center or community hub, • Provide meeting spaces, maker spaces, job assistance, • Support literacy development, • Support social service needs of all ages. FEATURES 27 F A L L 2 0 1 6 » Y O U N G A D U L T L I B R A R Y S E R V I C E S » Y A L S

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