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A Phone Booth Repurposed As A Library

Small(er) libraries: Survey highlights impact & funding

Last month, we shared our conversation about working in small(er) libraries and then asked our colleagues who work in similar libraries to weigh in by answering two survey questions:

  • What do you find most rewarding about working in a smaller or rural library?
  • What do you find most challenging about working in a smaller or rural library?

We promised to share the results with Open Shelf readers: Here’s what we heard back (we’re letting our colleagues speak for themselves!).


Circle chart of results of surveySelected responses
“I do not wait for a survey or a report to determine if the level of service is up to expectations. I hear it in the voices, I see it in the smiles, and I feel it deep inside when the community rises up to support the library, when we need it.”

“I have the opportunity to be involved in nearly all the aspects of librarianship on a daily basis.”

“Positively surprising people with what we do offer.”

“Your hard work has immediate impact in the community. Were you able to score a few more dollars for programming from Council? Now you can afford an after-school program. Or maybe you recommended a good author to a teen, and their mother comes back to tell you the teen has been devouring the series for the past week. Immediate rewarding impact!”

Circle graph of results of survey showing results in blue, green, orange and red
Selected responses
“Funding for operations is our biggest challenge.  Part-time, under-educated staff, base resources, growing technology challenges … the list is endless and the funds are few.”

“Although wearing many hats is exciting, I enjoy working with pre-teens, teens and adults and would love the opportunity to specialize in these areas. But, not only are there not enough teens in the area, I only have a designated amount of time to focus on building programming. Additionally, the lack of employees at the branch makes taking time off a complex issue. It means during the time I’m away programming does not happen. And, of course, a small budget limits what can be done.”

“Trying to balance and juggle so many tasks. There are only two staff and we mostly work alone.”

“Getting everything accomplished in fourteen hours per week – when you’re a one-woman-show in a branch library, it’s tough to cover all tasks that need to be done.”

“Lack of expertise in various areasparticularly technology.”

And if you did get a chance to read our article last month about working in small(er) libraries, you can check out Many hats, a door that’s hard to close now!

Written by Erika Heeson and Kelly Thompson

Kelly Thompson, CEO/Chief Librarian, works at the Renfrew Public Library. She spent many years as a child in the library she now manages.

Erika Heeson, CEO/Chief Librarian, manages the Perth and District Union Public Library.  She is a lifelong library patron, and remembers many hours browsing and volunteering at her local library growing up in Collingwood.

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