Library and information services managers must think out of the box and challenge the status quo. Instead of waiting for patrons to visit our libraries, we must leave no stone unturned to devise innovative ways of reaching people.
One such success- story is the beach library set up by public libraries on sandy beaches in the Netherlands (Holland) since 2005. This innovative experiment was based on the premise that ‘if people do not want to come to the library, we will visit them. We want to surprise them.’ The target group was vacationers in two coastal provinces.
Initially, there was some resistance from politicians who feared that nobody would return library materials borrowed from the beach library. Thus, it would represent wastage of taxpayers’ money. But this fear proved to be unjustified. The project worked in a marvelous way and made a lot of happy users due to the fact that it was based on TRUST.
ProBiblio – a public library service provider which acts as the coordinator of this endeavour has reported that it has given up all library rules and regulations, i.e no fees, no fines, no library cards and no I.Ds in order to make things as easy as possible. All one needs to do is to sign one’s name and give one’s address. Every year, an average of 25,000 visitors are registered. The circulation figures reach some 15,000 items. Only 1 % of borrowed materials are not returned. The beach library is operational during the six weeks vacation period only.
Indeed, there is food for thought for our public librarians and policy makers. Can’t our Beach Authority, Tourism Authority, District Councils and librarians chalk out a common strategy together ? Is it too demanding ?