Purple Cows & Public Libraries

Recently finished Seth Godin”s book “The Purple Cow” which has a main premise that businesses should no longer do mass marketing to the big bulge that is the early and late majority but instead, focus on niche marketing to the much smaller but much more rabid early adopters group who are much more likely to try something new (and potentially remarkable) and if it catches on, will (to mix my guru metaphors) tip it to the rest of the population.

That got me thinking about some of the recent library-related changes that might be considered Purple Cows and a few ideas for what else might do it:

1. Living libraries

2. Alternate classification systems

3. Popular picks

4. I’m not sure if this is a “recent” trend but I’d argue that whoever first allowed a coffee shop into a public library was creating a Purple Cow.

5. 23 Things/Learning 2.0

Some Random Ideas For Potential Future Public Library Purple Cows

1. Expanding beyond the traditional items for loan (libraries are already experimenting with this from video games to energy meters to mobile devices like laptops and iPads.  But I’m sure there are things we’re not loaning yet that we could be – if Home Depot can have a tool rental, why not a library? Okay, maybe not a great example! ;-))

2. Two similar ideas on how to bring micro-libraries to locations where you might not otherwise have them – library kiosks and Library Outposts

3. Increasingly, libraries are co-locating with other civil agencies (I’m thinking of Shaganappi branch in Calgary but also the upcoming North Central Shared Facility in Regina) so it isn’t hard to imagine a future where the partnerships are more formalized and library staff can pull back from their informal role as social workers/addictions counselors but still direct patrons who need assistance to these nearby agencies.

4. Libraries moving from a role as an information provider to an information generator – almost competing with or even replacing traditional media sources.

5. Library City.  A single location where the library is not only part of a mall or a civic centre or a housing complex but all of the above with the library in the anchor position for all of these other services/amenities!

I had lots of other ideas while reading the book but of course, didn’t write them down.  But I’m highly recommend reading it yourself – it’s a very quick read and will give lots of things to think about.

Comments 4

  1. Tony wrote:

    As scary as it is, the whole tool lending thing is already out there: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tool-lending_libraries

    Posted 21 Sep 2010 at 11:18 am
  2. HeadTale wrote:

    I was half-joking when I wrote that as a suggestion but I should’ve known that some library somewhere would have found a way to lend tools to people.

    As we chatted about the other day, I can’t imagine their liability waiver (or their liability insurance costs either!)

    Posted 26 Sep 2010 at 11:10 pm
  3. Heather wrote:

    Edmonton has one of the new-fangled library book vending machines, in the brave new world of outposts.

    Posted 04 Oct 2010 at 11:57 am
  4. HeadTale wrote:

    Isn’t it a totally self-contained unit in a transit station or something?

    To my mind, the book vending machines are sort of like a modern Bookmobile – taking the books to where people are even if the library isn’t. Less mobile of course but also less costly over time presumably.

    Posted 04 Oct 2010 at 9:29 pm
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