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Proposed New Service Responses – Draft

1/2/07 – Thank you to everyone for your enthusiastic responses! This post is now closed for commenting.  Check out the latest version of the service responses to be posted later today. -Kathleen Hughes, PLA

June Garcia and Sandra Nelson have reviewed all of the comments from the three open meetings during the 2006 Annual Conference and on the PLA Service Response blog and have identified seventeen new or revised service responses. They are listed below along with a brief description of the benefits that each service response provides to community residents. As the process continues, the service response descriptions will be expanded to include suggested target audiences, common library services and programs, required resources, and suggested measures for each.

Those of you who have been working with the PLA planning tools for a long time will note that the number of service responses or roles continues to increase. There were eight roles identified in Planning and Role-Setting for Public Libraries in 1987 and thirteen service responses identified in Planning for Results in 1998. There are seventeen service responses in the current proposed list, and the list may still grow. However, it is important to remember that there is no magic number of service responses that can be selected for a library. The number of service responses that a library can manage is dependent on the resources available to that library. Libraries with limited resources can only provide a few services well, while libraries with more extensive resources can provide a wider range of services effectively.

The Service Responses

Be Informed Citizens: Local, National, and World Affairs
Citizens will have the information they need to support and promote democracy, to fulfill their civic responsibilities at the local, state, and national levels, and to fully participate in community decision-making.

Build Successful Enterprises: Business and Non-Profit Support
Business owners and non-profit organization directors and their managers will have the tools they need to develop and maintain strong, viable organizations.

Connect to the Online World: Public Internet Access
Residents will have high-speed access to the digital world with no unnecessary restrictions or fees to ensure that everyone can take advantage of the ever-growing resources and services available through the Internet.

Create Young Readers: Emergent Literacy
Preschool children will have programs and services designed to ensure that they will enter school ready to learn to read, write, and listen.

Discover Your Heritage: Genealogy and Local History
Residents and visitors will have the resources they need to explore their heritage, to connect the past with the present through their family histories, and to understand the history and traditions of the community in which they live.

Express Creativity: Create and Share Content
Residents will have the services and support they need to express themselves by creating original print, video, audio, or visual content in a real-world or online environment.

Explore Our Community: Community Resources and Services
Residents will have a central source for information about the wide variety of programs, services, and activities provided by community agencies and organizations.

Get Fast Facts: Ready Reference
Residents will have someone to answer their questions on a wide array of topics of personal interest.

Learn to Find, Evaluate, and Use Information: Information Literacy
Residents will know when they need information to resolve an issue or answer a question and will have the skills to search for, locate, evaluate, and effectively use information to meet their needs.

Learn to Read and Write: Adult and Family Literacy
Adults will have the support they need to improve their literacy skills in order to meet their personal goals and fulfill their responsibilities as parents, citizens, and workers.

Make Career Choices: Job and Career Development
Teens and adults will have the skills and resources they need to identify career opportunities that suit their individual strengths and interests.

Make Informed Decisions: Health, Wealth, and Other Life Choices
Residents will have the resources they need to identify and analyze risks, benefits, and alternatives before making decisions that affect their lives.

Satisfy Curiosity: Lifelong Learning
Residents will have the resources they need to explore topics of personal interest and continue to learn throughout their lives.

Stimulate Imagination: Reading, Viewing and Listening for Pleasure
Residents who want materials to enhance their leisure time will find what they want when and where they want them and will have the help they need to make choices from among the options.

Succeed in School: Homework Help
Students will have the resources they need to succeed in school.

Visit a Comfortable Place: Public and Virtual Spaces
Residents will have safe and welcoming physical places to meet and interact with others or to sit quietly and read and will have open and accessible virtual spaces that support social networking.

Welcome to America: Services for New Immigrants
New immigrants will have information on citizenship, English Language Learning (ELL), employment, public schooling, health and safety, available social services, and any other topics that they need to participate successfully in American life.

Please let us know what you think! We will be accepting input until January 1 and will present a revised draft at the upcoming Midwinter Meeting.

Comment Pages

There are 27 Comments to "Proposed New Service Responses – Draft"

  • Welcome to America”” should be retitled. Mexico is America! Canada is America! We are the United States.

  • Susan Mann says:

    Having submitted a few comments, I was curious about the new draft, and I like what you have done!

  • Cindy Mediavilla says:

    Thank you for “Succeed in School: Homework Help.” This is much more explicit than the previous designations for helping students with their school work.

  • Dawn Hayslett says:

    I like the specificity of the new responses. What I feel is still missing is programming. There doesn’t seem to be a place for storytimes, book discussions, film programs, author talks, etc. These are the lifeblood of many public libraries.

  • Leslie Kahn says:

    I wonder if people will agree to update “information literacy” to “information fluency,” in keeping with Stephen Abram’s observation that the former term may hurt people’s feelings (we don’t want to call our guests “illiterate”).

  • Sandra Nelson says:

    Library staff develop appropriate collections, design and deliver programs, and assist the public to find needed information as a part of almost all of these service responses. Storyhours are an integral part of Create Young Readers, some book discussion groups and author talks support Stimulate Imagination and others support Satisfy Curiosity. Many libraries also offer a wide variety of programs that support Be Informed Citizens, Discover Your Heritage, and Make Informed Choices. In fact, programming could be a component of almost all of the proposed service responses. Right now, all that is posted are the service response titles and brief descriptions of the benefits the public receives if the services are provided. Ultimately, each service response also will include a list of “typical library services,” and that is where the various types of programs will be listed.

  • For the Visit a Comfortable Place: Public and Virtual Spaces, I would like the public and virtual to be split into two responses since they have separate roles, although these do overlap in many ways. Dealing with them as individual responses allows us to address the uniqueness inherent in each of them. For example, the public space may presented along the lines of:

    Connect to a Human Network
    Residents will have a people-based space where they can learn as much from face to face encounters as they do from the collections in a multitude of neutral areas allowing for a diversity of activities.

    One important distinction is that virtual community does not create the memory of place the human network does. As libraries see more use of their spaces, plazas, lobbies, etc., they will also see growth in their virtual spaces; the two are very connected, but also very unique to one another.

  • Catharine Cook says:

    I love the expansion and inclusion of new roles. I have worked with the roles since the very beginning and believe in the process. However, when there were only 8 roles, it seemed that one of two things happened. First, a library would choose all 8 because everything was important. No amount of talk about “You can’t spend the same dollar 8 times” or “Everything can’t be most important” did any good. Or secondly, a library would choose a few roles and then also continue to do everything else that they always had done. Having the myriad tasks that a public library might perform more fully described, will assist planners in seriously choosing those services that are most needed by their community.

  • Art Weeks says:

    I like the new service response, Welcome to American, although I agree with the blogger who felt that it should be re-named. This new addition leads the public library to be an “I and R” service to newly arrived residents of the US, which I feel is an excellent service response, depending upon the community in which the library is located.

    What has seemed to have dropped off the list, however, is “Cultural Awareness”. The objectives in the old “Cultural Awareness” model are still a vital part of many libraries’ services and do not necessarily apply only to the newly arrived. Materials in non-English languages, programs and collection development sensitive to diversity is still a service response worthy of emphasis in many communities.

    I look forward to more information on the “Express Creativity” service response. I am unsure what this one is supposed to look like when applied.

    I like the re-working of “Current Topics and Titles” to “Stimulate Imagination: Reading, Viewing, and Listening for Pleasure”, with one caveat. Since I feel that pop literature and the arts do stimulate the imagination, I would change “for Pleasure” to “personal enrichment” to give this service response an intellectual lift. It would serve to buttress against the complaints that we have “dumb-downed” our collections to pander to popular tastes. Even the more “low brow” offerings of the library provide to our users a higher purpose than the alternatives found on TV and other “pop” media outlets.

  • Mary Graham says:

    We at BPL would like Adolescent (Youth) Literacy added as another, separate service response. Although literacy is addressed in two of the service responses (Learn to Read and Write; Create Young Readers) we feel these do not address the service we provide (should provide) to adolescents who cannot read. They fall in between and require a much different model than early readers and adults.

  • Renee McGrath says:

    I was disappointed that I did not see anything related to “teens” or “young adults.” They need a place in our libraries, and they still don’t have it in many places – highlighted by their omission from this document.

  • Susan Waxter says:

    I agree with Art Weeks’ first two paragraphs about offering multicultural services and information to people who are not ‘new.’ Would it be possible to accomplish that simply by removing the word ‘new’ from the Welcome to America service response?

    Under ‘Get Fast Facts,’ is it less and less necessary that ready reference be provided by ‘someone?’ What about on line databases and reference books that can be perused by the customers themselves rather than with help from a person? Along those lines, I might find it difficult to differentiate in some situations between what is provided to customers under ‘Get Fast Facts’ vs. ‘Make Informed Decisions’ vs. ‘Satisfy Curiosity.’ Is it possible to clarify them?

    I look forward to the discussion in Seattle.

  • Sue Soy says:

    As an archivist working in a great public library, I see that we fit in Be Informed Citizens (although I want everyone, citizen or not to be informed) especially in regard to archives concerning our city departments and services.

    I would suggest that we provide citizens with information and services they need, not just the information. We are the place where everyone can come to see how our government is working and how decisions have been made in the past.

    We fit in Discover Your Heritage with our local history collection which documents the people, places, events, and built environment as well as provides good information for genealogists. The archives are also a part of Explore Our Community in that we provide current information about the community as well as information about the past. Certainly we help Satisfy Curiosity, help Youth Succeed in School, and provide a Comfortable Public Place for our visitors.

    Good list!

    At risk of stirring some intellectual debate, I am making the suggestion that we define the following words using concrete examples:

    Residents seem to be the predominant word to describe people in the community but we start the list of service responses with citizens and end with new immigrants. Our community serves individuals who may not be new immigrants or citizens, but they quality as residents. We serve all – everyone — in one way or another.

  • The current service response designations consist of a community want/need listed first, a colon, then the library service offered in response to the community want/need.

    These elements should be flipped so that the more professional library service response terminology is listed first.

    For example,
    INSTEAD OF – Connect to the online world: Public Internet Access
    LET’S USE – Public Internet Access: Connect to the online world

    A professional and businesslike presentation is valued by funding agencies, which must approve library services plans.

  • Nancy Pack says:

    Connect to Online World: Public Internet Access. Delete wording “with no unnecessary restrictions.” Many library boards have forced libraries to have some type of filters. Filters can be viewed as an unnecessary restriction.

    Create Young Readers:Emergent Literacy. Delete the phrase “ensure that children will be ready to learn to read, wriite and listen.” You may want to change prepare children to read—-. Librarians cannot ensure that each child we expose to literature will be ready to learn, etc. Disablilites, maturity, etc. are the factors that assist in ensuring the child is read to read, write, listen. Wording should be more consitant with Suceed in School

  • Nancy Smith says:

    Having worked with a number of libraries on PFR model plans, I, too, applaud the specificity of the service responses in the new draft. The Community Committee members often had problems understanding the coverage of the current ones so this could make their step easier–both in understanding and in turn communicating to the staff and board which audiences, services they are recommending by choosing a service response.

    The recommendations for renaming the Welcome to… response and substituting fluency for literacy seem both to be positive substitutions. I guess I’d go with pleasure AND personal enrichment on Stimulate Imagination.

    Personally I like the public and virtual spaces connected. It seems like they are achieving the same purpose and separating them by structure is artificial and possibly to the detriment of one or the other. It seems like libraries need to be aware of both structures and integrate them not put them in an either or situation.

    I am aware that teens & tweens/ young adults/?? are receiving increasing attention as a group on their own because of the challenges they pose for our colleagues working with that age group but is pulling them out as a separate group the best answer? There seem to be several responses that are inclusive of them– Express Creativity, Information Literacy, Adult and family literacy and, of course, Succeed in School. One of the things to be admired about the current responses was that they weren’t age specific but overarching. I think the case can be made for the Emergent literacy though I’m not sure it’s entirely necessary even to sort that group out.

    All in all the effort seems to be headed toward improving and augmenting the existing responses. Like several others I am looking forward to seeing more information about the new responses.

  • I agree with many of the comments being made. I feel that the Youth Literacy question can be addressed in Succeed in School. Cultural Awareness is missing as a separate service response, however it could be included under Discover Your Heritage, Welcome to America and even Satisfy Curiosity.

    Learn to Find, Evaluate, and Use information and Make Informed Decisions seem like they could be combined. One talks about the resources and the other the skills to use them. Seems like two sides of the same coin.

    Get Fast Facts speaks only or ready reference but what about reference in general and virtual reference. Can this be broadened a bit.

    I like the public and virtual spaces being connected. While they are different they are the first thing people see when they come into the library or visit the web page. They need to be welcoming, friendly, organized, and yes comfortable. The virtual space is comfortable when it meets the accessibility needs of our residents.

  • Lyn Hopper says:

    I love that the titles are from the customer point of view. The exception grammatically is “Welcome to America” (which should definitely be changed to the U.S.A.). In this one, it’s as though the library becomes the subject (for the verb to welcome) rather than the customer. In order to keep the symmetry, how about something like “(Enjoy Living/Be Successful/Live Well) in the U.S.A.” I don’t especially like any of these, but I’m sure you get the drift.

    If these are no longer written from the library point of view, I’m not sure they should be called service responses anymore. More like customer opportunities.

    I agree with Art that cultural awareness may be missing, but I like “…for Pleasure” for the Stimulate Imagination one. If there were a way to include both pleasure and (/or) personal enrichment in the concept without getting too wordy, that would be even better!

    Often the career choice materials in libraries are teamed with college and other postsecondary education information. Perhaps broaden to something like “Make Choices About Your Future: Decisions About School, Job and Career” rather than Make Career Choices? (School choices could be included in Make Informed Decisions, but I like the pairing of school and career.)

    Nice job! And again, great to see written from a customer benefit perspective.

  • Kent Oliver says:

    My impression is that this is a very fresh and welcome approach to reframing strategic planning for public libraries. I liked the thoughtful wording and believe there is certainly enough here to stimulate planning at anyone’s local level. All of the Service Area Responses seemed valid too me after I got past the total number. I was specifically pleased to see the area of literacy hit at both children’s and adult levels. I liked the idea of the library as public space being added to the list very much.
    I would say this is a timely update.

  • Dale McNeill says:

    Well done, indeed!

    I agree with Kathleen that “Welcome to America” isn’t quite right. And, frankly, I don’t think it’s “Welcome to the United States” either. It seems to me that what public libraries do best is welcome immigrants to the local community. Public libraries are not agents of federal government. They do often prepare immigrants for citizenship or other federal or state programs, but they do an outstanding job of welcoming immigrants to a particular place and community.

    I agree with Kent Oliver that it’s good to see adult and children in literacy.

    I also think that these approaches do the best job yet of being useful to all sizes of libraries. I have felt that the services of urban libraries didn’t fit very neatly into the previous responses, yet some of the suggestions I heard (not read, heard) would not have applied to smaller libraries. These responses could, I belive, be used by libraries of all sizes.

  • Pam Smith says:

    The experience or interaction with information needs to be included in some way. Many of our programs provide this experience which brings information to life.

    Marketing reading and books for all ages is key to our success. It is especially critical for children who may not see reading as a a viable pastime or recreation.

    I would integrate the concept of hospitality into the public and virtual space category.

  • Ellen Fader says:

    I’m really excited to see the work that has taken place to date. I’m in agreement with a few of the previous posters that teens seem to be falling through the cracks, especially related to recreational reading: succeeding in school and leisure/personal reading are separate topics, even though success is school is often predicated upon reading skills. If you cull out preschoolers and adults, I feel that teens deserve the same mention, especially when we consider data about middle and high school reading scores dropping. I wouldn’t change the ‘Creating Young Readers’ response from this draft.

  • Ed Trever says:

    With technology changing so rapidly, we in the business of information must be prepared to adapt to these changes. In regards to the “Connect to the Online World”, should this service be expanded in a way to cover providing access to tele/video conferencing and online multimedia presentations (will libraries provide the needed resources for accessing these)? Will libraries libraries have staff and equipment prepared to manage the accessing of these emerging technologies (or consider the option of alotting resources in these areas)?

    Traditional library services have also provided research assistance: assisting patrons find differing perspectives, weigh the validity and reliability of sources, judge the breadth and depth of resources (including different reading levels), and navigate through the various methods of organizing information. Providing browsers with a variety of call numbers which may contain information on their desired subject and providing them with optional subjects to consider are valuable services. Which of these responses relate to true reference service, not simply ready reference? The reference service response depends on staffing expertise (professional personnel and/or extensive training) and access to a wide range of resources.

  • Sara Laughlin says:

    This is great work. I notice a number of comments that focus on specific audiences–teens, immigrants, etc. With marketing in other businesses moving to mass customization (that is, the ability to identify and meet the needs of each individual uniquely), I have found myself structuring library plans by audience, rather than by service. I think either approach is valid–define an audience and a package of services for them, or define a service and identify the potential audiences for that service. As the PLA responses are arranged according to the latter, perhaps you could highlight the various audiences within the responses. For example, if it is information literacy/fluency, there is certainly a difference between what teens and senior citizens need, but they both DO have needs.

  • I agree with others here that I’ve never been too keen on the phrase “service responses,” although I understand that they are born from expressed community needs. Like other commentators, I also prefer “service initiatives,” for what it’s worth…

    I like many of the new services outlined here, with each one prefaced with an “action” verb. That makes the services seem livlier and more energetic. I especially like the phrasing for #2, #3, #4, and #15.

    I would like to suggest combining a few together. It might help with streamlining, but also it would better connect with expressed community needs.

    Take #17 “Welcome to America” and combine it with #1 “Be Informed Citizens.” The new immigrant pieces become goals or objectives under a broader “Informed Citizens.”

    Take #12 “Make Informed Decisions” and combine it with a newly titled #13 “Continue Lifelong Learning.” Again, the informed decision pieces become goals/objectives under a broader “lifelong learning.”

    Take #6 “Express Creativity” and combine it with #3 “Connect to the Online World…” same reasoning as above.

    Re-title #16 to “Enjoy a Comfortable Place”

    Somehow I’m troubled by #14. I’ve facilitated about 9 PFR projects and “stimulate imagination” has never been expressed as a community need. I understand the recreational reading and readers advisory angle, but I just feel this should be re-worked, maybe folded into another role…

    I’m very glad to see 2 age-specific services here geared toward toddlers and school-age children.

    Lastly, I could hope that these 17 could be streamlined into fewer services. I work with predominately small public libraries in a regional system of 115 libraries. Most are under 2,500 population. Having fewer–but more robust services–will make the PFR process much easier for small libraries to grab hold of. Thanks for this opportunity to comment!

  • Larry Neal says:

    I suggest a term other than “residents” throughout. This is too often tangled in policies and procedures and is limiting. I suggest a broader term, e.g., “customers,” “patrons,” “users.”

    Get Fast Facts – I would change “will have someone” to “will have a means.” Couldn’t we respond to this need with our web resources?

    Connect to the Online World – I would get rid of “with no unnecessary restrictions or fees”. These are both policy issues.

    I would consider folding “Make Informed Decisions” into “Learn to Find, Evaluate and Use Information.” It seems like a large subset.

  • […] service. Past models proposed “customer service responses” (Sandra Nelson and June Garcia’s New Planning for Results) that presumably described the “core” library services. 20th Century libraries could pick and […]