Monday, April 20, 2009

Renting Books and Libraries

As I was driving by another closed Blockbuster store, I realized people do not often want to be bothered to pull out of traffic, park, go inside, and wait in line. Are people actually watching less movies - of course not. But we are watching more movies at home - between Netflix, the Red Boxes around town (which are an onsite vending machine - but more convenient than a Blockbuster), on-demand, fantastic home theaters and sound systems, etc... we want to watch movies on our terms.

With book rentals (Bookswim, Booksfree) becoming more common, will libraries go the way of Blockbuster? I doubt it - but it does give us a chance to rethink part of our service to our communities.

At a time when the economy is tough, our libraries usage stats are going through the roof - we always knew libraries were REQUIRED for a strong community - now it seems others are catching on. But let's start thinking about when our economy strengthens (and yes it will) - how can we keep usage up? Should we be offering more on-demand service for books and movies? Can we have memberships that include enhanced services - and we mail the books and movies? The ongoing debate about everything is free vs. some pay services will remain. What we need to focus on is how do we best serve our users?

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