The Public Library as an (Almost) Open-Source Institution

Attempting Change From Within

Implementation FAIL

Implementation is one of those ways that you can royally screw up even the best ideas, as someone who works in UX testing could tell you. Take, for example, the idea of "equitable service". That could mean we're striving to provide the same kinds of experiences at our most far-flung, rural branch communities as we are in our urban zones. As our numbers will tell you, though, one program may be wildly popular in one community and have zero attendance in the next, whether it's intended for adults, teenagers, tweenagers, kids, families – you name it, we have variances in our statistics for attendance and interest. According to our philosophical statements, though, if we want to provide "equitable service", that suggests we may not necessarily take those regional variances into account and tailor our programming ideas to those things that are interesting. Which is a waste of time and resources. Not exactly "good stewards of the taxpayer's dollar" or "decisions that best serve the community." And it's certainly not giving people services where they want, when they want, and how they want.

Additionally, our far-flung regional locations are usually smaller in size, collection, and population. "Equitable service" would mean having a proper proportion of professionals for their needs and community, so that they received the same high-quality service that our larger, more metropolitan communities get. They don't. At our smallest locations, there's not a guarantee that there will be a degreed librarian working the reference desk to answer questions. Most of them get a visit from a Youth librarian once a week to take care of collection matters and maybe squeeze in a program. It's nothing approaching "equitable service", and it's certainly not the good kind of inequitable, where things are tailored to the needs of the community around.