California: Driving New Toyota Priuses Fresno County Librarians Leave The Branch Behind, Hit The Road
From the Fresno Bee:
Seven Fresno County librarians are fanning out in brand new Toyota Priuses to meet one-on-one with business owners or nonprofits, attend community events and inform the public about free services the library system offers.
The Library Without Walls (WoW!) program has been under way for about nine months but reached full staffing in September. It grew out of an analysis of library services and users through which county library officials learned that only 35% of county residents use the system. Overall, the system has had a 46% drop in reference questions from 2005 to 2012.
But 100% of taxpayers pay for the library, said Fresno County librarian Laurel Prysiazny, so “if our putting people out in the field moves that needle, then we are doing a good job.”
The work could be as basic as giving customers a phone number for getting information from the library, or going door-to-door to Fresno County businesses, or speaking with nonprofit organizations. The assignments also could be more complex, such as setting up computers outside a grocery store and making library cards, helping someone with an online business or setting up a makeshift library in socioeconomically challenged areas.
The program costs about $800,000 annually, paid for with revenue from voter-approved Measure B and the library system’s annual taxpayer funding.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.