Elements of a Four Star Library
I was in a meeting with a group of Library Directors who were describing their trials and tribulations. I started wondering what criteria we should use to rate our libraries. As a library user, what gets the four star rating?
It starts out like Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Without the basics covered, nothing added on will matter. It’s not just a minimum standard, like having a director, computers or space. It’s even more basic than that.
Level One of library needs:
- needs to be open
- electricity, water, heating/cooling
- clean, not foul smelling
- someone there
Level Two of library needs:
- internet access/wifi
- organization of materials
- access to catalog
- seating, tables
- friendly staff person able to find items and answer questions
- office services like copier, faxing
Level Three of library needs:
- programs for kids, teens and adults
- function as community hub with local information
- friendly, professional, knowledgable staff
- up-to-date materials, in-demand materials in stock
- easy access
- beautiful, pleasant surroundings
- meeting the needs of all ages
- collaboration with other educational facilities
This helps me to clarify what level four is. Level four is a beautiful, inviting facility that is open when the user needs it, has the materials the user is looking for, and works to be innovative in providing services to their entire community. The level four library is known to everyone in that community as the place to go to get information, entertainment, informal education, referrals to assistance, social interaction, cultural enrichment and access to new technology.
The question is, can you achieve a level four (or at least three) library on a tight budget? Or does it take a lot of money to make excellence?