Monday 2 May 2016

Letting Go of Legacy Services

Finished May 2
Letting Go of Legacy Services: Library Case Studies edited by Mary Evangeliste and Katherine Furlong

Libraries are being asked to do more with less these days, and many of us find it difficult to stop offering services that we've been offering for years to free up resources for those new things people want us to provide. The libraries here looked at the concept of planned abandonment, a concept popularized by Peter Drucker, and how it applies to libraries. Also included are several interviews that look at solutions to common pressure points.
This book contains a number of case studies of libraries who have taken a good hard look at either those things "we've always done" or things "we've always done that way" and determined if they are still worth doing or if they should be done differently. Each case study is wrapped up with a summary by the editors called Bookend.
Case studies included here are:
* a college library that changed the way they provide periodicals to their patrons.
* a county library system that took a good look at their web-based services, overhauled their website and improved community outreach.
* a university library that eliminated their reserve services.
* a university library that redefined reference service.
* a university library that used a series of crisis situations over six years to redefine mission critical services.
* a university library that used ethnographic research techniques to help them redefine library spaces to better meet student needs, reexamine resource delivery, checkout service, fines, ILL, and equipment lending.
* a university library who used collaborative strategic planning to facilitate the shift towards electronic resources.
* a public library who responded to a natural disaster and a financial crisis to look for efficiency opportunities in technical services, acquisitions, and cataloging.
* a university library used surveys and space analysis to create more useful spaces for their patrons

Interviews include:
* talking with David Consiglio about data driven decision making in a library context
* talking with Valerie Diggs about communication strategies for successful change

The conclusion to this book provides a lot of reflection on change in the library community. One sentence in particular spoke to me: "Among the many things we need to abandon is the nostalgia that unfortunately gives us an inaccurate perception of the past and hinders discussions of the present, and the future of libraries." Insights here range from the urgency of library as space for our communities to come together in a variety of ways, you can never had enough communication, and that fostering leadership and diversity is a necessity.


  1. Hmm. This sounds like one I should read - is there enough applicable to public libraries to be helpful?

    1. Yes, I think so. Some of the academic library experiences are transferable to a public library environment as well.