Novel Conversations

How libraries stay “on-trend” with their communities

When we purchase books for the library, or put together programs, we need to know what’s HOT! A customer may come in and want books on Japanese storage methods or adult colouring in. We have to buy these books months ahead of demand from our suppliers. Then we wait for them to come, process them and get them out to our customers.

The same applies for our programs and services. We have to anticipate customer needs.

How  do we know what’s trending? It’s called environmental scanning. It’s actually very necessary for libraries and any other businesses. Librarians read the newspapers – local, state and national. We look at websites like, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Buzzfeed and more, as well as library focused blogs. We also check news and developments from a range of libraries and associations like the Australian Library and Information Association or even the International Federation of Library Associations.


We rely on our customers to tell us what they would like as well. If we get enough requests, we action them. We have to be both proactive and reactive to meet the changing needs of our community. Some things go through phases and are often cyclical. Knitting was really popular a few years ago creating a high demand for books and DVDs on knitting. It’s not as popular now and other things, like macrame or polymer clay work, have come to the fore. But in a couple of years something else will be the “in fashion” thing to do.

It’s a real challenge keeping up to date on culture, current events and pretty much everything, but it can be incredibly fun too. It’s another reason libraries are a great place to work and a better place to come and visit.