The very nature of our world has changed significantly in the last 50 years. In each industry, leadership has strived to ensure that professionals in their fields are prepared for what the future brings. This is true for both public service fields as well as private sector industries. Libraries and nonprofit entities have been two of the most impacted styles of organizations in the last few decades, with budgets often tightening and resources becoming scarcer. Both have needed to adapt to these realities, and in response have retooled structures procedures to efficaciously serve constituents in the 21st century.
Effective Communication Remains an Issue in Nonprofits
Operations and goals in nonprofit entities have always differed from their private sector counterparts. However, some variances are more glaringly noticeable in today’s environment. Unlike businesses with ample funds and resources, public sector organizations often find themselves strained in all three aspects. This reality affects many operational aspects, including communication both inside and outside each entity. With answering these challenges more critical than ever, professionals must learn how to do so effectively.
In response, many undergraduate and graduate programs have stepped up to help their students learn to tackle these problems in their professions. For example, the University of Southern California (USC) deals with the issue of communication issues in nonprofit organizations in their Master of Communication Management. The program is intended for communications directors as well as marketers, journalists, public relations professionals, advertising executives and individuals in related fields. Since those graduates may serve in either business or public entities, the curricula offer critical knowledge and skills to tackle strategic communication in nearly any environment.
Libraries Get Creative in the Face of Shrinking Resources
Unsurprisingly, libraries also deal with a dearth of funds in day-to-day operations. Recent budget cuts affecting state library funding as reported by the Library Journal are just one example of this. Moreover, innovations in technology have reshaped the field for both better and worse. While brick-and-mortar institutions continue as part of standard offerings in most information systems networks, reliance on electronically accessed resources increases. Thankfully, most libraries have stayed ahead of the curve, embracing innovation and reorganization to serve patrons while cutting costs.
To prepare future library science graduates for these realities, library science programs are incorporating knowledge gained from new and anticipated developments in the field. For example, as prospective students learn about USC’s library science program they discover that the school already discusses such developments in its own courses of study. Besides improving electronic offerings and increasing access to digital materials, many libraries have created and repurposed spaces for classrooms, video conferencing and even performing. Many systems, such as the Columbus Metropolitan Library in Ohio, include art galleries and exhibitions in their public spaces.
Public Entities Embrace Change to Stay Alive
It’s one thing to be aware of change. However, it’s quite another to embrace it and retool key operational and organizational aspects to function and continue serving constituents. Public sector entities work with limited budgets and resources to leverage effective communications, while library systems embrace innovation and the creative use of space. As funding challenges are ongoing, it’s critical to learn about these realities to stay competitive and relevant in one’s field.