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Hello Members

Lets discuss on how to promote and increase membership of the libraries?

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Madam

First I want to know type of the Library

a Public Library

b School Library 

c  College Library 

D University Libraries

E Research Libraries 

F Special Libraries or any other 

To College Library sir,

Hello Shiva,

  i am more concerned about the footfall. types of library dont matter. 

Dear

Ms. Shubhangi Agarwal,

Thank you so very much for your post.

I believe that this is the most important question in our profession at this point of time. 

Simply speaking, 'Readers' or Library Users are the most important aspect of our sustenance . All our activities are focused upon them.

I saw Mr. Shiva Kanakala's post; where he asked for the types of Libraries. There is no denying that Users' foot fall vary to a certain extent according to variance of the nature & types of Libraries as the clientele varies. But as a whole, it is a concern of every Library and more importantly, to this profession!

Last week I was invited to attend a Round Table Consultation on the topic Relevance of  Libraries in the 21st Century convened by a Library of a Diplomatic Mission where several people from our Neighboring Country also participated. I observed that how the traditional idea of a Library changes!!  It is now being perceived as a "Community Place"  Some have set-up an "Amphitheater" on the Ground Floor of the library!! Of course they have made nice provisions for serious readers upstairs but, as a whole, the concept of Library is changing and all these changes are only because gradually diminishing foot falls in the Libraries. To some people, the present system of pedagogy is one of the reasons responsible for lesser footfalls. But it seems a mere simplification of a complex issue. However, there is no denying that the culture of reading "Texts" has lessened to a considerable due to present system of Objective type tests in examinations. It is a bare fact that unless the students in the secondary School level are not supposed to answer a question through writing 10 sentences, s/he hardly develops the habit of reading at a stretch that means to concentrate on books beyond half an hour for a single question! Abundant use of electronic gadgets are often made responsible for lower concentration or diminishing foot falls in libraries; but in advanced countries, unlike ours, their public libraries are extensively used by people of different age groups; I must admit here that "Public Libraries" in our countries and those of Western countries varies drastically.

Libraries have the duties & responsibilities to inculcate reading habits to their readers but at the same time children should be  introduced to reading aids  from young age.

At the Electronic age, the job of librarians have become more complex; they have to understand the requirements of the users in the changing landscape and the collection development process of the libraries should be made accordingly.

This is a forum where people often come up with extremely brilliant and innovative ideas. I sincerely hope to see large number of posts offering newer and novel suggestions.

Sincerely,

Siddhartha S. Ray, Calcutta

My humble opinion is just for the sake of increasing the footfall library  should not deviate from its traditional practices. Library has the dignity and it should look as serious place for ever. That should not be compromised for any reason. We should think other ways to improve the footfalls. It should not be changed as a market place.It is not a business. We are in service sector

The fore most important aspect for Library Staff should be Positive Attitude for Promoting our Library Activities We must provide the experience, As people come to libraries for an experience, not only for reading Conducting small events where people can gather and talk about issues.The Extension Service is an effort of a library to increase the number of its users to make the maximize use of its resources.Library Staff should equip with better technologies and focusing a lot on digitizing our libraries and introducing entrepreneurial activities, among others, in our libraries. In recent times we have seen lot of innovations such as Library on wheels great way of for the reaching the users or increasing users.

Best idea is User Education
Digital library facility
Awareness to all users inside the campus both technical& non-technical.

Hey Shubhangi,

Thanks for starting this discussion.

Below are my observations/suggestions:

1. Academic Libraries dont have to do anything as far as increasing membership is concerned. But to increase the footfalls, they need to do a lot of engagement activities.

2. Public Libraries have become a place for students preparing for competitive exams. These libraries need to engage with other members.

3. The librarians role as library managers needs a transformation. They need to act as community managers.

Very good question. Tried answering it in a few lines since 7 PM. Ended up writing much longer. Nonetheless, posting it here itself. This is primarily based on my visits to various libraries and discussions with many librarians over the years. 

How to Increase Library Users. 

  • Display Board Kiosks –

  • Information about library, new arrivals, timings and much more on Display Board Kiosks at the entrance of the library, college entrance, hostels etc. (Ref: IISc, Bengaluru)
  • I recommend putting a few silent display kiosks even at hostel mess where in students come there three times a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner and stay there for 15 to 30 minutes each or even longer. What better place than a mess, where students are captive for those many minutes, to tell about what all things library is offering?

  • Library User Groups

Form library user groups of different areas. By class, subject, areas of interest and much more. Send them regular communication of new arrivals. At least a few of those shall find the contents interesting and shall visit the library. (Ref: JNMC Belagavi and many more)

  • Conduct Events

Conduct events like Library Orientation, New Arrival Seminar, Book Reading, Story telling (if applicable), career guidance sessions, industry-student meets at the library and much more to attract students to the library for any reason. And even expand the events to cover solving community problems of the area. (Observed at Ref: University of Rochester, Public Libraries in New York).

  • Frequently Updated Web OPAC –

Web OPAC frequently updated with new arrivals information to attract more students to the library. Observed at Vivekananda College Puttur. Web OPAC updated almost daily accessible at http://vcputtur.easylib.net Seeing trends in increased library usage. Would need to observe a few more months to draw correlation and publish it.

  • Different Zones in the Library –

Forming a few zones in the library should take away of the reputation of library being a serious place and encourage more students to visit. The zones can be -

  • Discussion zone where talking is allowed (with enough round tables to allow students to form groups, do joint studies, work on a assignment, discuss projects etc.). Silent zone board is no longer displayed there.
  • Low voice zone with activity area (like circulation area, news paper reading zone, casual discussion zone etc.).
  • Silent Zone (Traditional four seat tables where people do their own reading)

(Ref: New Horizons Engineering College, Bengaluru)

  • Motivational Signboards

Catch the attention of students to read more

  • Written in Facebook font - Put Your Face in a Book
  • Written in YouTube font – You could Read a book

Many more innovative signboards related to websites where students spend time.

(Ref: Library at Sri Aurobindo Institute of Technology, Indore)

  • Appropriate Furniture
  • Casual reading zone should have unconventional furniture like more comfortable chairs, soft chairs, a sofa for the staff to sit etc. That should make students and staff feel like spending more time at the library.
  • Provide plug points to each desk in silent zone so that people can read the books accompanied by their laptops, tabs, mobiles etc. At least I prefer to read a book along with a tab or a laptop so that I can quickly refer to the supporting material mentioned in the book.
  • Make the furniture more appropriate for students to complete their homework or assignments. i.e. Much larger tables for students to spread their reading material.

 (Ref: Navodaya Medical College Raichur, KMC Manipal)

  • Place for safe keeping of personal items –

One of the factors affecting students entry to the library is the lack of place to keep their personal valuable items that are in their bags or backpacks.

One solution would to be provide students with a more secure space to keep their personal items. Just like a book, students borrow locker key and keep their belongings in the locker. They return the key while going out.  

(Observed at Sri Devaraj Urs Medical College Kolar)

  • Appropriate Ambience –

A few libraries I visited were very hot for a comfortable reading. Most students would spend time at the adjoining digital library that is equipped with air-conditioning unit. Better option would be merging both physical and digital libraries and provide temperature controlled reading area.

Similarly need either heater put in or thick curtains put to the windows to make the reading area feel warm during winter. 

Another library I visited was too bright for reading due to the sunlight coming in from glass windows. Putting curtains would solve the issue.

A library made it look much more spacious by taking out extra copies of unused books and keeping them in the backside area. Gave feeling of library being much more spacious for people to spend time there.

  • Location of the Library in the Campus–

A few libraries were in third floor and the students had to walk all the up to go to library and for the purpose of going to library alone. It would be more appropriate if the library is in ground floor or mezzanine floor and on the way to classrooms, building entry-exit etc.

A more visible library shall attract more students than a hard to find one.

  • Librarian and Professors to work together –

Request the professors to give case study based, periodical article based or a current issue based assignment or an assignment that expects the students to do research rather than giving only typical assignments which require them to read books and answer them. When the assignments require students to access the library resources to get necessary data for their assignments, automatically the library usage shall increase.

Ref: University of Massachusetts where in all our assignments were case study based. No choice other than going over so much of material at the library. Finance and strategy class expected us to analyze SEC (SEBI) filings. Again we would use library resources to get the necessary material. Marketing class would expect us to take one company a week and analyze and present our findings. Again e-Resources of library would be of use.

  • Standard Text Books vs. Guide Books –

Just did an analysis of circulation pattern for a select engineering college by publishers. Took noted three publishers and tried to see a pattern. Data shows as below.

Publisher and issue count for January month in 2009, 2014 and 2019.

Pearson – 288, 220, 70,

Prentice Hall India – 120, 63,13,

Tata Mc Graw Hill – 223, 157, 269.

 

As you see, in all the three cases, numbers either dropped or did not increase proportionately even though admissions have increased. A few engg. college librarians at Karnataka told me that many students now prefer reading guide-books rather than original text books. If that is the case, then it needs to be dealt at the curriculum formation level itself, where in curriculum should be designed to encourage original reading/writing rather than referring to standard textbooks like in high schools.

  • Friendly Welcome

Those with more friendly and approachable library staff had more students inside. Did not measure it, it is by observation. The more frequently students stopped by for a quick check with the library staff (during our discussions), the more students libraries seem to have inside.

  • Increase your collection with non academic books

Add to your collection more books related to tourism, biography, culture, history, geography, local area information, music, personal finance etc., even in engineering and medical colleges. This is the main factor for my both sons to visit their college and school libraries, as told by them.

There would be many more items, but I would stop here. Much of these views are with the experience of having worked with libraries for over 6 years, in two chunks between 2001 and 2003 and now between 2017-current. Will be happy to engage in further discussions. 

Happy Holi,

Vasu M Deshpande

Easylib Software Pvt Ltd

vasumd@easylibsoft.com 

+91-97422-04624

Library Culture should start at homes. We must encourage reading at home and visiting libraries for more readings. Now a day people visit libraries via Google and other search engines. Personally, I feel, reading and following a book is much more useful than reading 100 books just for counting the numbers. Similarly, one quality user or scholar is better than many walking users. 

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