For over a decade I have been arguing that our efforts to advance the programs of the library should be focused less on the middle range of services and more on the extremes. Initially, I argued that we ought to be investing in high tech services and high touch services instead of more customary or ordinary mid-level services. The point of the argument is that patrons can get mid-level knowledge services just about anywhere so the library should offer both the fastest, most convenient, most friction-free access to knowledge and learning and the best very high quality knowledge and learning experiences. Of course, the challenge of moving away from the middle is that it means abandoning much of what people have come to expect from a typical library and confronting some initial and possibly wide-spread disappointment.
More recently, I called attention to a similar strategy as a way of re-orienting learning in the workplace by focusing on the development of resources and experiences as the foundation for a new learning ecology. Easily accessed on-demand resources offer incredible efficiency while high quality, well produced experiences provide meaningful learning impact. Again, the challenge in moving efforts away from the usual, customary, friction laden learning programs to concentrate on resources and high quality experiences rests in dealing with the dashed expectations for ordinary service.
Now, it seems that my argument will be put to the test in what promises to be a multi-billion dollar effort to redesign Target stores so that they offer both extreme efficiencies and extreme experiences. The new stores will allow customers to pick up items quickly on the run or to indulge in a more engaging shopping experience, complete with novelty and entertainment.
Let's keep our eyes on this new Target experiment.