Birmingham Public Library is rather tired and in urgent need of an update, but this applies only to the building and not the staff. Interestingly if the building been built as per the original plan, in marble, it may not have deteriorated quite so dramatically. My time here was full on, energising, tiring and lots of ideas. However I wish to comment on a meeting I had today with MLA Westmidlands, a follow up visit as a result of conference networking.
Geoff was discussing Library Spaces, a mystery visit of libraries in opening hours and opportunity for reflection and discussion about how people respond to changed library spaces, successful impact factors and how this feeds into oher things. One aspect is the invisibilty of libraries – does it matter that in some instances they are not labelled as libraries or even identified as this service. Many new joint use initiatives like Castle Vale do not even have the name library anywhere. I was lucky enough to have visited Castle Vale yesterday and this is an example of a joint use that has not fulfilled its potential and indeed has been a major disappointment. More on that another time.
Finally we spent considerable time looking at research and what this tells us or not as the case may be. A recent national survey indicates 92% of customers are ‘satisfied’ with libraries. What does this mean? Should investment in libraries be reduced, we are all doing a good job, customers are happy or can we suggest that satisfaction hides low expectations? To take this concept one step further can we therefore suggest if customers expectations are high then we can expect lower satisfaction?