Reimagining Dallas Public Library

January 22, 2012

Dallas Public Library is moving to a more community-based, content-driven approach “not necessarily owning stuff anymore, but providing access to information,” DPL Interim Library Director Corinne Hill told the audience attending the “Reimagining the Public Library in a Post-Recession Economy” program Saturday, part of the ALA Masters Series.

Hill said the library has implemented or is in the process of conducting a number of changes to reach patrons since the 2008 recession. They include working with the city’s economic development department to change the focus of assistance to those seeking employment, moving from just providing résumé-writing to a micro-business concept to aid potential new small business owners with 10 employees or less. They also looked at library design as it relates to the community in “ a move to be flexible and nimble to meet community needs.”

One of the newly planned branches will have an artsy design with gallery space for artists, who in turn will provide children’s programming. The new facility will have art cubicles and books along the wall.

In 2008, Hill said, DPL had a central library, 25 branches, two Dallas Independent School locations, bookmobiles, and a website. Since then, they've added a children’s library, a new branch, bookmobiles, and a catalog iPhone/iPad Touch app.

The library is also looking toward customer service improvements, advising librarians to “not turn their backs on upgrades,” and to push toward self-service and mobile reference. “My vision is for people to come into DPL and whomever they encounter can help with whatever they need.”

Hill said they are also moving to customer-driven collection development by sending email invitations to the public seeking their input as to what they want to see in their libraries in terms of books and technology-related items. Other improvements already in place or on the horizon are: enhanced digital content; mobile access for staff; an energy discovery wall for interactive field trips, and iPads for catalog access. The overall move, according to Hill, is toward an eventual demise of the website, moving to a more app-related environment.