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Geek The Library

East Baton Rouge Parish Library

Innovation Summary

The Geek the Library campaign inspires conversation about our library system and the need for increased support. With this campaign, we have asked people what they geek, how our system supports their geek and how their geek affects community, and how everyone in our community benefits from the services our library provides.

Innovation Leader: Mary Stein, Assistang Library Director, mstein@ebrpl.com

Problem Statement

In an era where kids believe all the knowledge is found through powerhouse search engines like Google, libraries have found themselves competing in a market of unreliable information overload. Our library has sought to change its reputation as being "your grandfather's library" to that of a thriving community center, where lifelong learning and pursuits of happiness take center stage. The Geek the Library project is a community public awareness campaign aimed at spreading the word about the vital and growing role of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library System. This initiative is perfect to promote a positive dialogue in our very diverse community. Our population is severely at-risk as regards literacy, educational levels, and economic achievement. Not only have we utilized the Geek the Library campaign to raise awareness about the many issues our library faces but we have also used it as an output measure for strategic planning in our library system. Moreover, members of our staff have applied the underlying rubric and turned it inward. Our goal is to engage the entire region in positive conversation related to key issues of library services, social services, resources, as well as library/governmental restructuring and more--all aspects that are of key concern to our leaders and community stakeholders today. Intellectual freedom, censorship, government control, and understanding the role the media plays in shaping our future are "geeked up" topics for discussion in our community, which is still struggling with issues related to the government’s role in and response to Katrina’s devastation, and the slow process towards recovery and rebuilding.

Innovation

Traditionally thought of as a campaign to increase community awareness of the unique richness that can be found in a library--we began utilizing the campaign differently by beggining with staff. We held "geek out" sessions, where on breaks, staff could stop by different stations pick up a snack and simply mix with other staff to discuss their geeks. Like-minded geeks "hooked up" and began creating programs with one another to find similar "geek-minded" members of the public. This worked triple fold, in that it increase employee morale, brought thousands of less traditional library users into the fold, and proved to employees that they all had something to bring to the table. It was best illustration when even the naysayers felt as if their opinions had been heard and all felt motivated. A unique caveat to this intiative, is that we have utilized this campaign as a semi-propagandized approach to strategic planning. We attended many public events and simply had members of the public write on geek walls. The loved to tell us their "geek" and often shared personal stories. We then asked them to write on our blog or voice how they felt that library could help them with their geeks. This led to a barrage of community involvement and media coverage that was paramount to the success of the initiative.

Progress

Response to this program has been phenomenal. Staff morale has dramatically increase. Customer service has become more efficient and community leaders have been vocal as to the impact that our library system plays in the growth of our community. Staff members actively want to plan and execute more programs and are taking the intiative to research and develop both short-term and long-term goals that keep in with the Libary's mission. Community leaders have rallied behind the movement and insist that other "movers and shakers" get "geeked up."