NLW 2017: Give ‘Em What They Want

Give Em What They Want - cover


Give ‘Em What They Want!: Managing the Public’s Library
American Library Association

Submitter: This was not a bad choice for 1992. But holding on to it today is just sad. This was still being used at my local library. I think itโ€™s time to update to this century.

Holly: This was great in the early 1990s! I even like the “give ’em what they want” philosophy for library management books for today. It is just too dated to be useful, though. The screen shots below (especially the Baker & Taylor ordering system) are just comical. Of course technology is still part of long-range planning, as indicated in the third image below (the one with the microfilm machine), but the way that is worded is soooo 1992. Or earlier.



Give Em What They Want - back cover

Ordering and fund accounting

Give Em What They Want - microfilm

Give Em What They Want - weeding


  1. Charles Robinson and his staff made such an impact in public libraries in terms of changing the focus to customer service from book preservation and storage, which is what a lot of public libraries had been up until that time.

  2. Yes sir I polled the patrons and they want me to have more paid vacation and a kegerator in my office – yes they do

    1. I think it is there by design. It isn’t just the public library in the sense that the public funds it or is allowed to enter. It’s the public’s library, in the sense that the patrons and their wishes should be foremost.

    2. No, I think that’s intentional — a possessive, in the sense of the library belonging to the public. I think it’s meant to catch you up and make you think.

  3. If I am not mistaken, Carla Hayden took over Baltimore, shortly after this book was published.

    1. Carla Hayden was head of the Enoch Pratt Library (Baltimore City). This book was written by the Baltimore County Library committee. Separate governments, separate library systems.

  4. And, BOY, does the photo of the “Blue Ribbon Committee” reinforce every cliche and stereotype of the librarian, or what?
    (And I say this as a regular user of that county’s system–I think I know in which branch that “Audios and CD’s” sign was!)

  5. I KNOW what some of our male patrons want–they’ve made it explicitly clear–but in this case, we are NOT givin’!

  6. This is Baltimore *County* Public Library – Dr. Hayden was the director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore *City* – two completely different jurisdictions (and Baltimore City is NOT part of Baltimore County!) Dr. Hayden and Mr. Robinson overlapped as directors of their respective systems for a few years. When I worked in Maryland public libraries, this book, and the philosophy behind it, was HUGE. The idea that it was okay to have multiple copies of the latest Danielle Steele while weeding unread “classics” blew more than a few minds! The late Mr. Robinson was a bit of a controversial figure at the time. And I recognize just about everyone on the Blue Ribbon Committee – boy, that was a long time ago!

Comments are closed.