Our Program

Characteristics of a Successful Library

Child Aid’s librarian training program helps librarians develop vibrant, active libraries that can be resource centers for educational initiatives in their communities, particularly in the schools. Our curriculum is based on the following list of sixteen key characteristics of successful community libraries. The list provides a blueprint for where librarians can focus their efforts and improve their libraries’ services.

Sixteeen Characteristics of a Model Library

A library is a place where any member of the community can come to gather information, look for a book to read for enjoyment, or find ways to improve their work or daily lives. Successful libraries come in all shapes and sizes but they share certain characteristics that help them operate efficiently, meet the needs of their communities and provide an environment where users of all ages and interests can discover, explore and develop a love for learning and reading.

Library Environment and Physical Space

In order for a library to function well, it needs to have adequate space that is well organized and pleasantly presented to serve the community.  A model library has the following physical characteristics:

  • Sufficient work areas that can be arranged to meet the needs of various users, organized book stacks that are available to users and plenty of light to read and work.

  • Special display areas that invite exploration, discovery and a love for learning. They can range from information about current and historical events to thematic displays of books from the library’s collection.

  • Special activity corners, such as a Children’s Corner, Author’s Corner or Games Corner, where the library’s patrons can participate in educational activities in an engaging environment.

  • Decorations and displays that create a welcoming environment. They can reflect the local and national culture, reinforce academic content or provide information to library patrons.

Administration and Management

A model library is well staffed and well managed.  That includes having trained librarians who are customer-service oriented and systems that support the diverse interests and needs of the community. A model library has the following management systems in place:

  • The library develops and manages an inventory of books that represent the needs of the population served. For example, the library should have a good collection of fiction and storybooks to engage young readers, sufficient reference and textbooks for students to do homework and find answers to questions that peak their curiosity, resources on vocational or home issues, and books on local, national and international interests.

  • The library’s book collection is inventoried and cataloged in a regularly updated database and systems are in place to track books borrowed and returned, as well as numbers and characteristics of users.

  • Librarians do regular planning, evaluation and monitoring so that the library has sufficient information to improve its services, implement new programs and improve management of these activities

  • The library’s human and material resources are managed to provide its patrons the best possible access to its services. For example, the library has established regular hours with sufficient staffing, provides open book stacks to enable browsing and discovery and offers programs and activities to the community

  • The library has created an adequate budget that allows it to manage its resources and programs. The library actively develops its own sources of funding and volunteer support.

  • The library uses appropriate technology such as computers, photocopiers, printers, Internet or other audiovisual aids that help the library best serve the community.

  • Library personnel are trained to assist patrons who visit the library for personal or academic reasons and can provide orientation to visitors about how the library runs, its rules and its services and programs.

Program Management

A model library provides a variety of programs that support learning and literacy and help bring the community into the library.  Library programs may include including the following types:

  • Book lending programs that make books available for individual users to check out and take home as well inter-library loans and book sharing programs with schools that get the library’s resources into the community.

  • Literacy programs that help community members improve their ability to read, write, develop critical thinking and analytical skills, and instill a love for reading, writing and learning. These may include a weekly read-aloud story hour for kids, book clubs or the Adventures in Reading school break reading program.

  • Outreach programs that help the community discover how they can access services at a library. These can include a range of activities such as hosting a booth at community events, creating book boxes that can be used in classrooms, hosting seminars on issues of interest or other needed community services like vaccination or voting locations.

  • Library exchange activities that help develop a professional community of librarians within a region and promote communication between libraries. This communication facilitates skill development as well as the enrichment of services and programs through the sharing of ideas and experiences.
  • The library actively engages the support and input of members of the community and recruits local volunteers to assist in the operation of the library, for example through the creation of community library committees.

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