Would you like to improve your local public library
? Here are a few ideas.
- Suggest books:
One of the trickiest tasks in a library is collection development. Librarians want to develop a collection that will be useful in ten years in case their funding is slashed and they have to use their book-buying money on staff. They also want to buy things that you want to read now, whether it's an ORA book on Java or a trashy romance novel.
A library buys books based on an educated guess: a book by a popular author is sure to be in demand; a farm community will want books on animal husbandry, agriculture, and so on. They're trying to guess what you would like them to buy. Why? Because you haven't told them. So tell the library that you would like them to buy, for example, The Star Dancers and Starmind by Spider and Jeanne Robinson. Give them the ISBN(s) if you'd like to make their job easier. They'll quite probably buy at least one copy, because they know that if one person wanted it badly enough to ask for it, ten or a hundred people would also like to read it but haven't bothered to ask. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
- Increase their circulation:
Visit regularly, and check out books even if you're not entirely sure you'll have time to read each one from cover to cover. If you're feeling slightly subversive, check out books that might be in danger of being removed -- underappreciated titles, controversial titles... you get the idea. Libraries clear out the dead wood (no pun intended) by asking their computers which books haven't been checked out in years. A book that gets checked out every six months will almost certainly be kept indefinitely.
Write letters telling the city council about a good experience you had at the public library. Tell them you support the library and see it as one of the most important services a city can provide. If it's relevant in your area (and it probably is), tell them what you think of filtering public access to the Internet.
Confess your book addiction to your friends. Tell them about audiobooks and how they make a commute a pleasure. Tell them that your small business was able to get valuable market data for free.
Tell the reference librarians you found an obscure answer on Everything2. The more of them we hook, the better a resource this will be, which will in turn improve the library's services.
Find the local Friends of the Library group. If they're doing something useful, join them. If there is no Friends of the Library group, start one. -- suggested by DerekL