More on the Five Laws

I got a lot of positive comments about my posting of the Five Laws last week, so I thought I would dig a little deeper into them in terms of how they apply to library systems, since that is obviously where my focus is these days.


For example:


System services are for use.

Every system member its service.

Every system service its member user.

Save the time of the system member.

The system is a growing organism.


We want the services that we deliver through RAILS to be used and used robustly.  We should continuously evaluate customer satisfaction with our services and we do that in a number of ways: through surveys – such as the recent delivery survey and the current survey about our member update sessions.  We also encourage other kinds of feedback through our website and forums, and my meetings with members throughout RAILS have definitely been and will certainly continue to be a great way of talking with members about their thoughts on existing RAILS services as well as what else they need.


RAILS has an extremely diverse membership which is certainly a strength but also clearly a challenge. We have libraries of all types and sizes, libraries with large budgets and very, very small, and our libraries serve an amazing array of communities – small rural communities, densely populated metropolitan areas, corporations, non-profit organizations, community colleges, large universities, elementary, middle, and high schools, public and private.  This diversity means that we sometimes have to struggle to see the things we have in common; but, my travels and conversations throughout RAILS have made clear to me that all of our members are dedicated to delivering the best possible services to their communities. The challenge for RAILS is to develop and deliver services that will meet the needs of each and every one of our member libraries.


Saving the time of the system member is about finding ways to provide system services more efficiently and more economically.  A good example is delivery – I am hoping that our RFP for the Burr Ridge delivery service will give us some ideas about how to eliminate some work in member libraries – no sorting, no labeling, etc. And, the “sticky” label we are now using also saves time in member libraries as there is no need to use tape or rubber bands to affix the label.


Is the system a growing organism?  I think we can substitute the word change in the sense that we must evolve as the needs of member libraries change.  Frankly, systems didn’t evolve far enough or fast enough in the past so it is even more incumbent on us now to be a responsive, agile organization.


I am committed to leading the evolution of RAILS – as I have said in my meetings throughout the system, Illinois systems were once the best in the country and they will be again.  We owe it to our members and most especially to the Illinois taxpayers who fund and use our services and those of our member libraries.

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