Libraries and the US Postal Service

Chances are that, if you work in a library or have visited a library at some point you’ve found yourself saying “Wow, I really hate my library because of _____ and I think we’re doomed and libraries are totally gonna fail”.  It happens to everyone. I’ve had these moments myself.

Recently I’ve been having them a lot more, but not with libraries…this time, it’s been with the US Postal Service.  Between having absolutely horrible customer service experiences (I had one post office employee tell me I was mad for decorating an envelope), long waits in line (my personal best? 15 minutes in line to get one stamp), and unwillingness to embrace technology and self service (example: the two post offices near my home do not have self service kiosks if you just want stamps), I completely believe that the US Postal Service is doomed to fail.

On other hand, it makes me think about libraries and just how far we’ve come.  Are we in the same situation as the US Post Office?  Nope.  And why is that?  I think that’s because we’ve done a pretty fantastic job caring about the people we serve over the past few years.  We’ve adapted, we’ve learned to smile more, we’ve jumped into the unknown and dammit, we’ve come out of it stronger than ever.

So the next time you find yourself being bummed out about your library, just think of all the awesome changes we’ve made in the past few years and BE PROUD.

Here’s a good article about the US Postal Service: Avoiding Financial Armageddon at the Post Office.  My favorite quote:

Re-invent the post office. Operating and staffing 36,000 physical post offices is hugely expensive. And these post offices are being hollowed out, as volume going through the average post office is down 19% in the past four years alone. USPS needs to steal pages from the UPS and FedEx playbooks. Most physical post offices should be closed and replaced with self-service kiosks, supported by proven technology tools. These kiosks could be located in retailers, who would gladly trade a little space in exchange for foot traffic and possibly a revenue share. Closing post offices would save a fortune in operating and staffing costs, and the proceeds from selling the real estate could fund the benefits shortfall.


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