Bench Marking

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  BENCHMARKING THE FALL OF THE INDIAN LIBRARY With the entry of a variety of channels and media, the utility of a library over the years kept on reducing from that of a common meeting place of intellectuals and casual readers to a rather forgotten affair. With the rise of Oxford, Crossword and Landmark where one could sit and read and then buy was a new turning point in customer experience. Therefore in the Indian Scenario the entire idea of libraries are in a need for revival. Moreover the true main obstacles of the library have been twofold. First being, the rising cost of real estate which increased the pressure and cost structure of the library followed by the rapid penetration of the internet throughout the country. Therefore in India, the entire idea of the library needs revival. The model and pull should be good enough for both trial and repeat. A collection of almost more than two lakh titles, Delhi Public Library currently has 79,226 members. It was setup in 1951 by the then Ministry of Education, Government of India along with UNESCO. The Government of India further constituted the Delhi Library Board under a special resolution on February 7, 1951 as an autonomous organisation 1 . The Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Government of India now administrate over the functioning of the DPL. A market research showed that youngsters felt that many libraries in Delhi needed up gradation and modernisation. The traditional image of a perfectly silent place to read is no longer the perfect model. Also the collection of books needed to be improved. In a general trend across India public libraries are losing their sheen and are perceived as keeping outdated books with no digital material and silent places to read. The consumers needs and demands in the last two decades has taken a major turn and in this regard India's libraries have taken a big beating as they have not been able to stay up to the mark. Private libraries haven't been extremely successful either. Many private libraries extremely  popular before 90's have seen a downturn and have been forced to expand online to sustain. Also with changing lifestyles expectations of quality and service have also expanded. 1  Ram Gopal Sharma and Sons  2  , a family-run library in Delhi's Connaught Place, has been around since the 1930s. In 2007, however, it decided to open an online library, Nidhi Verma, who runs the online operation, says: The library in CP used to be extremely popular till a few decades ago. But as the area's profile changed, our customers began to move to satellite cities like Gurgaon and Ghaziabad. It was no longer  feasible for them to travel the distance to the library.      A PEEK INTO SOME SUCCESSFUL MODELS NAPERVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY Comparing the Indian Public Libraries to the Naperville Public Library we see a distinct difference.   The Naperville Public Library (NPL) has been ranked as the best in its population category continuously for the last decade of the Hennen’s American Public Library Rating (HAPLR). 3  Furthermore with a five star degree by the Library Journal NPL has also been named one of “Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For 2009.” 4  Among library users and non-users of the library, its services, there has been a highly positive rating for its value for the tax dollar, and its value to the life of the community. An overall satisfaction rating of 90% was reached by NPL in its customer satisfaction ratings. This stands as an interesting case. Firstly in a developed country with various sources of media it proves that the failure of libraries in India is not exactly a result of internet penetration or a proliferation of bookstore chains. Secondly the ratings give a good indication as to the popularity of these libraries which have managed to stay abreast of consumer needs and demands. With this they have been flexible to adapt to changing trends and needs. Also the Best places to work for is an indication of how they treat their employees because employees are their first customers. THE COMMUNITY LIBRARY MODEL CROXTETH COMMUNITY LIBRARY Croxteth Community Library in Liverpool is a brilliant example of a library which denied the trends in the market . As the overall popularity and number of memberships in Liverpool 2 3   Thomas J. Hennen Jr., “ 2010 HAPLR Index Released ,”    American Libraries , Apr. 20, 2010. 4   Keith C. Lance and Ray Lyons, “ Star Data by Peer Group ,”   Library Journal  , Nov. 1, 2011; 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, “ Chicago 2009 Winners ,”  went down over the last 2 years Croxteth library defied the trends to see an increase in  popularity and an increase in the memberships and the number of issues. The Liverpool City libraries which managed the libraries gave way to Alt Valley Community in November 1, 2010 which also took over the Centre for Sports management. They came in with a new range of programs which integrated the entire system .The Trust relocated library to community hub to collocate with other services (Education) and it is now operated by 2 members of staff and one volunteer. 5  The integration of library facilities with other services such as cafe's and other services was the inflexion point that changed the entire system. The involvement of the entire community was another crucial point for the success of the model The figure above shows the number of issues in Liverpool libraries on a chronological scale and we see a clear decreasing trend throughout the system. Though such data is not available in India we expect to see a similar graph for the country and major cities too. But then when we compare it to the Corxteth Library we get a completely different view and an insight into how well the programs and initiatives of the trust fared 5    LEARNINGS This model brings out two learning's. The first being that for today's consumer it is not a standalone library that work but rather a combinational system which integrates multiple utilities into one. This bundling of utilities in crucial for customer attraction and retention. The integration with cafe's and other learning centres was crucial to the success. Further integration with other knowledge centres provided a complete program for the consumers. THE ONLINE LIBRARY MODEL is the largest online library portal in America 12% of Americans (36 million) read one or more books each month, and more than one third of them indulge in more than three books monthly. The largest single segment of BookSwim members is women (80%), ages 26 to 40 (36%). 6  Members pay a monthly fee of $15-$40 for unlimited use of all their books. Since the books are reused and reread the initial cost is spread and creates profit. Since 2007, the venture was running on personal cash, but in 2008, more than $900,000 cash was invested. Because none of their competitors stack hard covers, Bookswim gets an advantage because all the new covers are released in hard covers. BookSwim makes a guarantee of new releases and the users don't have to pay a late fine. They also have apps for i-phones, and android. 6
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