Yesterday, a few co-workers and myself, were saying goodbyes to another who was leaving the firm to pursue a degree in political science and work for a campaign. The topic of demographics and statistics came up and it got me thinking. How often do public libraries use public demographics/statistics and/or ask for statistics from political parties? Could this data prove useful? Politicians use this data to determine where to campaign and where a certain percentage of voters typically live. Depending on the county, city, district, area, etc., library funds are often voted on by the people and/or decided by a governing board; knowing as much as possible about the people in the community has unknown value. A basic identity can be uncovered and some collections can then be geared towards that. However, the library would have to market the changes appropriately. Just as a politician goes door to door, sends out mailers, and has voices in neighborhoods speaking on their behalf- so too should the library.
I understand that many libraries use this type of data but to what extent? Most certainly do not go as deep as politicians. Politicians employ specialist in organizing this data and lining it up with a campaign plan. Librarians though are armed with a skill set that would make tackling such an endeavor simple. A phone call to a local official would be a good start. The library wants to reach out to the people and an elected official would want the same. Perhaps the library could set up an appointment with the official’s campaign manager or a specialists from their campaign. It’s a win-win situation and most importantly a win for the public.