Competition For Library Services


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Competition for Library Services

Larry Nash White, East Carolina University

In today’s information service economy, information users and customers have choices like never before as to where they obtain their information. Information seekers can literally obtain information from any where in the global market place, so the library’s service environment is experiencing increased competition for customers like they never have before. To complicate the situation further, the service environment of libraries is becoming more competitive at a time when resources to operate libraries are becoming more difficult to obtain.

In order to strategically respond to these challenges, today’s libraries need to show evidence of understanding the global market place. In order to do that, they need to compete for customers, resources and community connections in innovative and strategic relationships with stakeholders. The library workplace has to have cultures and processes that support continuous innovation and entrepreneurial development or services and their delivery processes. Library leaders need to demonstrate visionary leadership that incorporates both “high touch” and “high tech” in allowing the library customer to shape and control their library experience to best meet their information needs.

The presentation will review the competitors and how they are competing in the information service economy and how libraries are responding to this challenge. Examples of competitors, competitive practices, and research of library response to increasing competition will be presented. Environmental scanning, survey data, and real life examples will be used to present a picture of the current competition of the library service environment and whether libraries are demonstrating evidence of understanding the global market place.

Dr. White is an Assistant Professor and Co-Interim Chair of the Department of Library Science at East Carolina University.

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Competition For Library Services

  1. 1. Competition for Library Services For the Inspiration, Innovation, and Celebration Conference for Librarians Dr. Larry Nash White East Carolina University
  2. 2. Learning Walkabout <ul><li>Is there competition for library services </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of competitors and their impacts </li></ul><ul><li>How do we respond? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Is there competition for library services?
  4. 4. A Networked World
  5. 5. It’s a flat World High tech, High touch, Individualization
  6. 6. The public’s perception of libraries…
  7. 7. We offer quality services…
  8. 8. The latest technology applications…
  9. 9. We are change agents and proactive responders to challenges and problems…
  10. 10. <ul><li>Time for a reality √ from a customer’s viewpoint </li></ul>
  11. 11. √ You are not the ONLY provider of library and information services in your area. √ You may not even be the BEST provider of library and information services in your area. √ You may not even be the FIRST provider that your customers think of when obtaining library and information services. √ Someone would take YOUR customers from you in a New York minute if YOU let them! And THEY are trying !
  12. 12. The Competitors… <ul><li>We have seen the enemy and it is us… </li></ul><ul><li>What we can see coming… the tangible competitors </li></ul><ul><li>What we can’t see that is already here… the intangible competitors </li></ul>
  13. 13. Libraries compete with other libraries and government agencies… Libraries compete for: Staffing Resources Collaborators Partners Opportunities Appreciation Support Technology Market Share Existing Customers New Customers Finances ???
  14. 14. The Tangibles…
  15. 15. New book technologies…
  16. 16. Social networking
  17. 17. The 800 hundred pound gorilla in the room… What if … Articles and book chapters as 99¢ downloads / rentals? Google Docs and Spreadsheets - Google Calendar - Google Base - Google Maps - Google Wallet /Cart - G-Mail – GTalk – Google Scholar – Google Phone - IGoogle -
  18. 18. Search Engines galore…
  19. 19. A few more library service competitors… Abrams, Steven. “ Social Libraries and Librarians: Collaboration, Cooperation, Sharing, Storytelling, and Networking.” SLIS Johannesburg: August 24, 2007.
  20. 20. Did I say there were a few more? Abrams, Steven. “ Social Libraries and Librarians: Collaboration, Cooperation, Sharing, Storytelling, and Networking.” SLIS Johannesburg: August 24, 2007.
  21. 21. There are more than a few… Abrams, Steven. “ Social Libraries and Librarians: Collaboration, Cooperation, Sharing, Storytelling, and Networking.” SLIS Johannesburg: August 24, 2007.
  22. 22. More detailed information and access…
  23. 23. Flexibility of access…
  24. 24. Books-by-demand printing…
  25. 25. The Potentials…
  26. 26. The Hidden Competitors…
  27. 27. A dome scratcher… <ul><li>What is the most valuable </li></ul><ul><li>thing in this room? </li></ul>
  28. 28. A dome scratcher… <ul><li>What is the most valuable </li></ul><ul><li>thing in this room? </li></ul><ul><li>Well, … </li></ul>
  29. 29. A dome scratcher… <ul><li>What is the most valuable </li></ul><ul><li>thing in this room? </li></ul><ul><li>Well, … </li></ul><ul><li>Imagine if … </li></ul>
  30. 30. The Hidden… In your town ??? Video Retailers ??? Youth Programs ??? Schools (All types) ??? Reading Programs/Support ??? Libraries ??? Internet Products / Services ??? Compact Disc Retail ??? Bookstores ??? After-school programs
  31. 31. Library Closures <ul><li>2008 Public Library Closure Study (Koontz, </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Study of library closures 2003 - 2007 years </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Over 500 closures noted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4 types of closures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Temporary (Short term) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Temporary (Long term) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Swaps </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Permanent closures </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Approximately 125 permanent closures </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Of the permanent closures.... </li></ul>
  32. 32. Academic libraries are not immune… <ul><li>Academic </li></ul><ul><li>Academic librarians answer 72.8 million reference questions each year—almost twice the attendance at college football games. (down from 97 million in 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>College libraries receive less than two cents of every dollar spent on higher education. </li></ul><ul><li>The number of librarians per 1,000 students enrolled in 2 and 4-year colleges and universities in the US dropped from 2.4 in 2000 to less than .5 in 2004. </li></ul><ul><li>72% of college student respondents said the search engine would be their first choice the next time they need a source for information. College students rank the library a distant second with 14%... </li></ul><ul><li>Sources: ALA Office for Research & Statistics, OCLC Reports </li></ul>
  33. 33. Competitor facts… <ul><li>Reference questions answered by public libraries: 7,000,000 / week (1 million / day). Google searches: approximately 1.28 billion / day. </li></ul><ul><li>Second Life’s library gets 5,000 registered visitors a day in the library </li></ul><ul><li>Unique pages added to the web per day: 7.3 million </li></ul><ul><li>SirsiDynix purchase: $1 billion + </li></ul><ul><li>$226,182,000 for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA)2008 </li></ul>
  34. 34. So how do we compete?
  35. 35. Stop being comfortable…
  36. 36. And do something! “ We librarians must learn that when we study something to death, … Death was not our original goal .” Steven Abram, Vice President, Innovation, Sirsi Dynix
  37. 37. Be proactive!
  38. 38. Competitive Responses <ul><li>Respond like a business! </li></ul><ul><li>Expand your performance assessment scope and effectiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Include competitive scanning / intelligence with your performance assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Use research to your advantage! </li></ul><ul><li>Expand your knowledge and innovative skills </li></ul>
  39. 39. Competitive Responses <ul><li>Develop new strategic competitive responses: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Know” your service environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Innovate your library’s services and service delivery methods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increase access, accountability and alignment to the service environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Delivery service impact, cost effectiveness / value, more access/less time, and more options for the customer </li></ul></ul>
  40. 40. A Flat World Library Biblioteca de Santiago
  41. 41. Pending research on competition <ul><li>Pending study of library administrator’s perceptions of competition and their actual competitive practices </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Competitive resources and activities inventory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Library as a whole / Library leaders </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Resources committed to competing in library service environment </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Where are our most competitive libraries? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are they doing? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How are they doing it? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What difference is it making? </li></ul></ul>
  42. 42. Being a librarian in a competitive economy is not too bad…
  43. 43. The end of the walkabout… <ul><li>I am happy to take your questions! </li></ul><ul><li>Thank you for coming today! </li></ul><ul><li>Available to speak / work with your libraries </li></ul><ul><li>To contact Dr. White: 252-328-2315 </li></ul>
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