Community-Led Library Service

The Community-Led service model is one where the library engages the community to inform decision-making processes about the library’s collections, services, and programming, with a focus on removing barriers to access and building inclusivity.  The decision about how the library meets those needs is made by the Board and Library Administration. We would not consult on the day-to-day administration of the library including things like staffing, scheduling, pay, types of roles and role responsibilities.

Libraries operating under traditional service models serve some segments of the population better than others, namely those who are confidently able to engage in society well. For others who struggle with literacy, poverty, discrimination and social isolation, there are barriers to accessing library services. Through community consultation, these barriers can be identified and then removed. We will take the Community-Led Took Kit and develop a tailored implementation plan for Saskatoon. As the community evolves so too will our programs and services. We will be seeking input from SPL employees on developing SPL’s service philosophy.

The Community-Led service model was developed in 2004 and is considered the best practice in library service models across North America.

Related Information:

Community-Led Tool Kit

Questions? We've got answers.

What is a library service model?

What is SPL’s existing service model? 

How do the two library service models compare? 

What is the benefit of making this change?

Will there be a reduction in service to the public? 

What is a library service model?

A library service model is a philosophy and approach to working with the community that is used to frame resource-allocation decisions. A library service model has a direct impact on decisions made about: 

  • The organizational structure of public services and support services.
  • Roles and the types of responsibilities associated with them. 
  • What services we offer to the public and how we offer them. 
  • How we curate the library’s collection. 
  • What programs are available, and the how the delivery of those programs happens.  
  • Required changes and upgrades at facilities.

What is SPL’s existing service model? 

SPL has operated using a traditional desk-based service model.

  • We engage with patrons and assist them from behind a service desk.
  • The priority of all roles is to check out materials and to prepare for reference questions.
  • Employee time and resources are allocated for other system work including programming, collections management, and outreach only after the desk shifts are scheduled.
  • The organizational structure schedules 2-3 people at each service desk during all open hours, with no assessment of the need or appropriateness of the staffing levels.
  • Work schedule decisions reflect an internal, rather than external or patron-based focus.
  • Decisions about the library’s collections, services and programming are made solely by employees.
  • Outreach is intended to promote the use of the library.
  • Assessment is mainly output-based and measured from the perspective of the library. For example number of available programs, how many people attend programs, visits, and circulation.

How do the two library service models compare? 

  TRADITIONAL COMMUNITY-LED
Vision Community Service Community Builder
Goal Inform / Educate
Decisions made about library operations are shared out to the community as information.
Partner / Collaborate
The community informs decisions about library operations.
Service Excellence Quantity
of programs and services delivered.
Quality
of the user experience.
Who is the needs expert Library is the Expert
Library employees direct what the public needs and provide access.
Community is the Expert
The role of the library staff is to facilitate, identify, and help community fill those needs.
Community Relationships

Consultation
The library asks for information and feedback from the community about existing library services and programs.

Engagement
The focus is active and meaningful community involvement that engages the community in decision making.
Measurement & Assessment Outputs
The focus is on how the library delivers.
Outcomes
The focus is on the impact on patrons and the community.
Spaces Library-Driven
Areas and spaces within the library are controlled by employees and are only accessible to the public during programs.
User-Driven
Spaces within the library are available for the public to self-direct learning and experiences.
Programming Design Employee Direct and Lead
Employees decide what to offer based on their knowledge and abilities. Employees decide what they think would be interesting and important to the public and assess based on numbers of attendance and observation of attendee interest.

Partnerships
Employees coordinate and collaborate with community partners. Employees design programs based on evidence and evaluation of community needs. 

 

What is the benefit of making this change?

It is the vision of the Library Board to ensure SPL remains a strong, vibrant, relevant community service. We envision a thriving library system that meets the needs of all community members.

The three key benefits of the changes are:

  1. Expanding our focus beyond access to information to enable SPL to meet the needs of the community in areas such as technology. 
  2. Making it easier for people who serve the public to do their jobs.
  3. Using our resources more efficiently.

Will there be a reduction in service to the public? 

The Community-Led model and the supporting organizational structure will enhance SPL’s ability to make community impact—beyond access to information. We are not changing our services right now. We are changing how we provide them. Even though our approach to decisions about collections, programs and services will be different in the future, our commitment to fundamentals like children’s programming, the physical collection, and Local History will remain. At this time we have not made any changes to our services as a result of the new service model. We won’t be making any changes to our services until we are operating in our new organizational structure and can consult the community about what changes they might like to see.