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Kleckner: Hinsdale Public Library pivots with purpose

Published: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 2:00 p.m. CDT
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Karen Kleckner is the executive director of Hinsdale Public Library.

As collectors and catalogers of information, librarians are exposed to a lot of great ideas. One that currently resonates with me is the buzzword “pivot.” Eric Ries writes about this in his bestselling book, "The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Business."

In this context, a pivot is keeping one foot firmly planted in your organization’s mission and core values and then using that stability to center yourself while the other foot is free to move about and eventually turn you around.

Could there be a better way of thinking about the challenges facing public libraries right now?

Information has never been more easily accessible. And books, which used to be our bread and butter, can now be delivered wirelessly to a phone the size of a deck of cards.

Should we slow down and shut our doors? Of course not, we should pay attention to how our patrons are using us and pivot to meet them face on.

The Hinsdale Public Library recently completed a main floor improvement project. Enhancements include two new meeting rooms, a digital media lab, a custom travel section, a more flexible teen space, and a new “coffee bar” with a Keurig coffee machine and pods available for purchase.

The Library also opened up the space where audiovisual materials and new books are located — dedicating more space and adding more browser-friendly shelving. The Adult Services desk moved into this area as well, giving staff the opportunity to work more closely with patrons using these collections.

In the past, better library service meant storing more materials. Listening to our community and looking at the reams of statistics we collect, we now shift to providing better spaces and services. We think of our collections not as things that should be warehoused, but as high-interest items that belong out in our borrowers’ homes (for a couple of weeks, at least).

Of course we’ll keep collecting what our users love to read, watch and listen, too. What we’re shifting to is an environment in which it’s easier and more enjoyable to find what you’re looking for, discover something new, or find a space right in your own backyard to read, work, meet and explore.

Karen Kleckner is the executive director of Hinsdale Public Library.

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