I have been going back and forth between topics for my research question. I do like the idea of investigating how private sponsorship into a public service, such as the library, would affect customer satisfaction, increase library circulation, improve collection selections and act as outreach to introduce new groups to the library through incentives. Unfortunately I don’t think that I would be able to structure a real world experiment to explore this idea due to a number of factors; public outrage, union concerns, securing a pilot location, partnering with a specific corporation, etc.
For the record, I do feel that <b>public</b> libraries should remain as such, without the interference of the private sector. I am, however interested in how for-profit strategies might influence the library domain.
My second idea is far more feasible. I want to look into re-evaluating the library space and blurring the lines between the library and a community center. I find it odd that we have defined buildings, “community centers,” as if community building/pride do not exist outside of these places. I would like to explore <i>how increased programing would affect public perceptions and satisfaction within the test library’s community.</i> This would mean a shift from upholding the library as an institution to acquire knowledge through text, to one where learning and knowledge are passed on actively and socially.
The Toronto Public Library already holds a diverse range of programing, including; baby time, computer training, author talks, etc. What if a space was created where more programs could be held at a more frequent rate? The public could be polled, or surveyed about programs they are aware of, have used and what they would like to see, or would be willing to attend if available. For example, puppet shows are something that is severely lacking in this city (within the library system and otherwise). A crafts workshop, writing workshop, drama session are three different programs the library that could arise from holding a puppet show (4th program) and could involve many library users of varying demographics. A decreased focus on physical materials would allow library staff to plan and implement these workshops, activities and classes. Perhaps a space could be set aside for programing within a library location (eg. The concourse of the North York Central Library) and staff could be assisted by volunteers or MLIS students requiring some placement experience (also prospective/recently graduated teachers). Another idea would be to take a smaller library location and temporarily mark their collection as “browsery” and remove their listing as a location that receives requested materials. This would decrease the handling of materials, and reduce incoming and outgoing materials. A location such as Mt. Pleasant would be an ideal location for such an experiment as they are a smaller location located walking distance from a district library, so these changes would not be that much of an inconvenience to the public. That particular location also has a second floor which has available space for programing without affecting regular library operations. There is also the advantage that it is located in midtown, which combines the population density of downtown with the increased number of families present in the suburbs.
As you can see my mind is still very cluttered with thoughts, which I hope to soon hone down into something more…concise.