Mind The Gap: Looking For Library Users In All The "wrong" Places

Attracting The Gap

Solution #2 - If You Build It (Right), They Will Come

Pierce County Library System also had the opportunity to build a new building in Fife, Washington, after the city annexed to the library district. The chosen location for the branch building really helps with solving problem #1 and #3 0 it's easily accessible from a major highway, and it's very close to the high school. The placement of the branch is excellent for attracting The Gap.

Another excellent idea I've seen implemented in a few libraries, like the Ann Arbor District Library's Pittsfield Branch, are after-hours hold pickup boxes - a one-time use code is programmed into the locker and then communicated to the person picking up the materials, and they can come by at any point they like after work or other obligations, use the code, and collect their materials. For the commuter Gap that works something other than shifts that allow them to get to the library during open hours, this is a great solution for them

One of the Pierce County Library System's smallest locations is in Tilicum, a location that can only be accessed from the highway. The community is small, poor, and much of the things in the community are providedby various agencies and charitable groups.

The library in Tilicum isn't a separate building, but space in the Community Center. And for that community, it's perfect. The Community Center handles things like WIC, the community kitchen, food distribution points, and a lot of government services and assistance. It's in a place where almost everyone in the community is going to be, and so many of them do their work and visit the library at the same time to check things out or use the computing resources. The things the library can provide that meet the specific needs that Tilicum has are used nearly constantly, and so the library is also looking into plans to revamp the space so as to provide more of those resources.

Admittedly, not everyone can move their building, or build new ones, or be able to relocate permanently into new places that work much better. Even so, public libraries can still engage better with their communities, rather than being upset or annoyed that their communities are not coming to them.

Temporary structures, campaigns, and collections are one way that this can be accomplished. The library appears in a place where there are lots of people, very visibly, and pushes itself into the consciousness of the people that are there. People that had forgotten remember, people that hadn't thought about a library get a more accurate picture of what is there, and in the case of the Occupy Library pictured, and some of the library structures pictured, people got to exchange their resources and information with each other, with the library accruing benefits and recognition for facilitating the exchange. This helps connect The Gap to their libraries.