The Purpose-Based Library: Finding Your Path to Survival, Success, and Growth

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ALA Neal-Schuman
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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the Authors
  • Reviews

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In the years since John Huber's trailblazing Lean Library Management was published, budget pressures on libraries have only increased. Yet libraries who have adopted his strategies have turned conventional management thinking—that if budgets are reduced, customer service suffers—on its head. These libraries have proven that by streamlining and improving customer services, they can eliminate wasteful activities and bring down costs. In The Purpose-Based Library, Huber and seasoned public library administrator Potter build on insight gleaned from decades of experience to demonstrate how libraries can create real growth opportunities through concentrating on their true mission and purpose, and without spending a lot more money. With a focus on putting ideas into action, they point the way towards

  • New ways to think about metrics
  • Reexamining customer self-driven services
  • Effectively leveraging the considerable footprint of libraries
  • Identifying and assessing community needs and realigning library services accordingly
  • Actively encouraging community fundraising
  • Offering cutting-edge services and programs

Packed with boots-on-the-ground commentary, this book presents strategies to help libraries survive and succeed.

List of Figures and Tables


Part I: Survival

Chapter 1: Lean Library Management

Part II: Success

Chapter 2: Good Morning
Chapter 3: Missions, Visions, and Purpose
Chapter 4: The Community Pyramid
Chapter 5: A Purpose-Based Community
Chapter 6: Dashboard Metrics
Chapter 7: The Food and Shelter Safety Net
Chapter 8: Safety and Security
Chapter 9: Health and Nutrition
Chapter 10: Functional Literacy and Access
Chapter 11: Digital Literacy and Access
Chapter 12: Social Community Engagement
Chapter 13: Functional Skills Development
Chapter 14: Community Contribution
Chapter 15: Creative Expression
Chapter 16: Advancement of Knowledge

Part III: Growth

Chapter 17: Resources
Chapter 18: Value-Added Marketing
Chapter 19: Philanthropy
Chapter 20: Library Presentation
Chapter 21: Closing the Gap with Your Suppliers and Customers

Part IV: Sustainability

Chapter 22: Structural and Environmental Sustainability

About the Authors

John J. Huber

John J. Huber formed the management consulting firm of J. Huber and Associates in 1986. Focused on the tools, principles, and concepts of lean, he has dedicated his career to helping organizations dramatically improve their customer service through improved process performance. As a pioneer in the TPS/lean revolution, he has traveled the country assisting more than 100 manufacturing, distribution, retail, and library organizations transform their operations. For the library world, he has developed breakthrough ideas including the holds label solution and the no-totes delivery solution for such clients as the New York Public Library, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Tulsa City-County Library, Mid-Continent Public Library, and Austin Public Library. He is also the author of Lean Library Management: Eleven Strategies for Reducing Costs and Improving Customer Services.

Steven V. Potter

Steven V. Potter is the library director and CEO at Mid-Continent Public Library (MCPL) in Missouri, which in 2014 was awarded the prestigious National Medal for Museum and Library Service, and an adjunct professor at University of Missouri. The MCPL system serves more than 750,000 people, has one of the nation's largest summer reading programs, and is known for their array of innovative services. MCPL is home to the Midwest Genealogy Center, one of the nation's preeminent resources for family history, providing access to almost three-quarters of a million on-site materials. MCPL's Woodneath Library Center was opened in 2013 and includes the Story Center, which houses Woodneath Press, an on-site bookmaking printer; a digital storytelling technology lab; a recording booth; and an archive of oral, written, and digital stories produced at the center.

“The power of cooperative community engagement cannot be underestimated. In this book, John Huber and Steven Potter present a vision that provides not only the framework for community transformation, but a means to apply metrics to the efforts ... Through the community pyramid, John proposes a practical and workable means for all members of the community, including charities, foundations, businesses, volunteers, churches, and government agencies to engage in productive, measurable, and transformative community efforts.”
Don Millican, CFO, Kaiser-Francis
“Physical libraries increasingly serve the essential civic function of being vibrant gathering places for a community, in all its diversity, to come together, to learn, to engage, and to act. John Huber’s work is an important contribution to this historic transformation, helping us to make sense of it and leverage these social, intellectual, and physical changes in the notion of a library into maximum potential for our community and all of society.”
Ken Levit, Executive Director, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Tulsa, Oklahoma

”Exceptionally well written, organized and presented … a practical, innovative, thoughtful and thought-provoking read that should be considered a ‘must’ for all librarians and members of library boards of directors."
— MBR Bookwatch

”Paints a vivid picture of various scenarios faced by libraries, which invites the reader to think beyond traditional responses to questions regarding the need and/or size of library facilities. Readers will find specific examples from numerous libraries that are relevant to most libraries … As a director of a public library, I found The Purposed-Based Library: Finding Your Path to Survival, Success, and Growth to be an inspiring read. I will definitely share the book with my leadership, and we will strive to implement the model so that we can become a transformational focal point in our community."
— Technical Services Quarterly

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