10 Tips for Tracking Trends: Libraries Can Stay Relevant to Their Users by Strategically Riding the Wave of Societal Trends

By Doucett, Elisabeth | American Libraries, June-July 2010 | Go to article overview

10 Tips for Tracking Trends: Libraries Can Stay Relevant to Their Users by Strategically Riding the Wave of Societal Trends


Doucett, Elisabeth, American Libraries


As a public library director I spend a great deal of time searching out ways to keep my library relevant in today's fast-changing environment. I've found that one method is to keep myself current about societal trends and to strategize regularly about how my library might ride the wave of those trends to better serve the needs of the library's users. This article explains the steps that I go through to do this. It doesn't take long, it is invariably interesting, and I've consistently found that it produces results. As you work, keep in mind that your primary goal is to identify trends and evaluate them for implications they might have for your library. That will help keep you focused among the myriad of fascinating ideas that you will discover.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

(1) Identify potential sources of information for societal and library trend tracking. Trend tracking is now an entire profession in the world of business. There are people and companies that focus exclusively on tracking trends and defining their potential implications for businesses. Because this is a relatively new phenomenon, most of these trend trackers are internet-centered. They tend to share their information broadly and freely online with the goal of attracting business to them. This means that librarians can find a tremendous amount of trend-tracking information online, for free.

Go online and search for "trend tracking" or "cool hunting." You'll get a whole list of individuals and organizations that do this; in fact, you may be somewhat overwhelmed by the options. You need to do some evaluation of the websites you find to determine which ones will be useful and provide good information. I would look for sites that 1) have been in existence for more than 10 minutes, 2) have received positive reviews in well-known marketing or advertising journals (the equivalent of peer review in the world of marketing), and 3) provide a great deal of free information--otherwise, what's the point? (To see eight recent trends our library spotted, go to the "Trends in Action" sidebar on page 46.)

I generally try to find sites that provide general rather than specific information. For example, I'm less interested in specific trends in the car industry, but I'm very interested in trends that involve marketing to baby boomers. The more general the trend, the easier it is for me to determine its implications for what I do in the library. To help you get started check out trendwatching.com, Cool Hunting, The Cool Hunter, and Tomorrow's Trends--all great sources of information.

(2) Develop a method for regularly reviewing those resources. I block out an hour every Friday morning to sit down and go through my trend tracking. I try to hold that hour on my schedule, no matter what. I start by going through the new information on each site, scanning for content that grabs my attention. If something is particularly interesting or seems like it could have direct and immediate relevance to the library, I'll do some additional, general searches on my own through common business resources (Advertising Age, Business Week, Business Source Premier) to see if I can find more information.

I spend a total of about 20 minutes reviewing, reading, and researching, and then I write down each idea in two to three words (to be used in the next step), along with a few additional sentences to summarize the basic concept and the source for that information. (I always track this so that if I need to refer back to the source I know where to find it quickly.) I usually spend about 10 minutes doing this, so I don't spend more than two or three minutes per idea. If I come up with 10 ideas in a session, I'm very happy.

(3) Search social networking sites. I spend another 10 minutes using the two to three keywords I identified above to search social network sites like Twitter and Facebook to see if anything of interest pops up. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

10 Tips for Tracking Trends: Libraries Can Stay Relevant to Their Users by Strategically Riding the Wave of Societal Trends
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.