Participants 2014

Katarzyna Kasprzyk: Can a public library really be for all? And does it have to be?


I guess everyone agrees on that public libraries should be accessible for all, no matter age, sex, health, ethnicity etc. Can they though really be attractive for all and do they have to be?

At my workplace we are aware of that we don’t reach the majority of the inhabitants of the area. We are a small library in a multicultural suburb of Stockholm. The place is still pretty crowded many hours each day and our visitors are mainly children and youth. We talk quite often about reaching to new target groups, we try but sometimes we succeed and sometimes we don’t. It’s been raising some questions and thoughts for me.

How can we satisfy different groups of users (not to say about “all”) on a small area with four co-workers? For example, the existing problem is that acceptable sound level differs for a kindergarten group and newspaper readers.

Is it worth to use our limited resources to work actively on reaching new groups? It is usually long and demanding process, what is the cost of such work? (I mean some other group of users will get less attention then). How can we examine which groups would appreciate our services?

Is it better to focus on those who already are our users, listen to their needs and give good service to them? Where is the border of satisfying the needs of a small number of users so that it won’t become a “private” library?

Does really everybody need a library? For example, many of my friends aged 25-35 almost never go to libraries even though they read a lot (buying and exchanging books with friends) and are active culture consumers in other ways. Shall libraries compete with other organisations/institutions/etc. for their attention?

Is it a good idea to specialise a public library and/or choose a profile?

I will be happy discussing these issues with other participants to get some different perspectives and ideas!

Katarzyna ”Kasia” Kasprzyk

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