Kim Huntley and Heather Mathis, Toronto Public Library
Less activity at reference desk, increased diversity, effects of technology, maker culture, self-checkout, funding reductions and competition in public sector.
Consulted with international public libraries.
Surveyed librarians to see what they were doing. Largest portion providing information services at reference desk (c. 28%). Community engagement, which they wanted to emphasize, was just 1%. Large percentage of reference questions were directional or tech help.
Met with librarians to ask them what they thought they should be doing.
Developed six roles:
1. Service leader- models service excellence, leads projects
* Professional development program for new librarians – two weeks of dedicated training in a large branch, monthly training sessions for a year
* Continuous professional development for all TPL librarians
2. Information professional – one-on-one, in-depth reference, reader’s advisory
* Community librarians: outside traditional library, such as prisons
* Book-a-librarian: 30- to 60-minute appointments for projects such as starting a business or job search.
3. Collection curator: Traditional formats and digital formats, such as the Virtual Reference Library, which has Ontario history.
* Merchandising – in-branch displays, blog posts, social media
4. Learning catalyst – Supporting self-directed continuous learning. Technology, multiple literacies, lifelong learning.
* Digital innovation hubs (makerspaces), pop-up learning labs (mobile), after school youth hubs
5. Culture creator – Community-focused, events, programming with big impact, partnership with other community organizations
6. Community activator – Individual relationships, working with partners
* Welcome event for Syrian refugees. Bookmobiles and story hours at the hotels where they were first housed.
* Civic engagement fairs: position the library as a safe place to discuss serious issues
Each librarian fulfills these roles to a greater or lesser extent.
Developing further training, creating a logic model, defining competencies, prototyping new service models.
Librarian spotlights in staff newsletter.
Not the old model of the reference librarian sitting at the desk waiting for somebody to ask for something.