Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Staying Relevent

I am still enjoying some holidays for the Christmas break, for which I am very grateful One of the jobs I had to do today was to pay my tax. In Hong Kong you pay your yearly tax all at once, you can pay it online, through the post or at the local post office. I normally do all my bill payments online to avoid cues, but for this payment for various reasons I needed to do it in person at the post office. While I was standing in the long line I got to pondering about the post office.

Post offices were set up for the central distribution of mail and parcels across the country and across the world. They date back to BC times, are generally government run, but have had times where their existence has been challenged through private courier companies and reduced use due to the invention of the telephone and internet. They are still here and still play an important role in all communities across the world. The US Postal Service even makes enough money to sponsor a cycling team.

The small local post office I was in had 2 windows open - one for people who wanted to post items, the other for people who wanted to pay bills. The bill paying line was the much longer line and people had many bills to pay. Even though the Post Offices main role is to deliver mail in many different forms, they offer other services such as paying bills, registering for and picking up the $6000HKD grant the HK government has been giving out, buy philatelic items, currency remittance, register for an e-certificate using the HKID card and, they even sell some cute souvenirs. They also have free to use computers to access the internet in the post office. In Australia, the Post Office is the place where you also apply for a passport, buy pre paid phone sim cards and top ups, purchase all types of office needs and even gifts for different holidays. In other parts of the world, banking can be done through the post office.

As I was pondering this in my waiting time, I related it to school and even community libraries. If the postal services had been unwilling to take on new and varied services to meet the needs of their community, they may not still be in existence. They have been through rough times, reinvented themselves and are still an important part of all the communities they serve. And, they are still delivering mail.

The library I manage is a busy place, and we offer the opportunity for our school community to borrow books, it was what the library was set up for. We now provide access to ebooks, cameras, ipads, ipods, kobo's, laminating large poster services, information retrieval, databases, on time access to what the community wants, supporting the curriculum through resources and teaching, along with many other services. If we had resisted moving with the needs of our community because the services strayed away from the books, we may not be very relevant to that community. And, we still lend books.

Looking at the HK Post website I came across their performance pledge, I really like some of their statements, and they could easily be transferred across to a school library situation. I have identified those in italics which are particularly relevant. Text in brackets is my thinking aloud.

HK Post
Purpose, Vision, Mission, Values


  • Linking People, Delivering Business (Information?)


  • To be recognised as an outstanding service organisation
  • To be recognised worldwide as an outstanding postal service


  • To be a totally committed and valued workforce
  • To achieve consistently the highest levels of customer satisfaction
  • To be a viable business with sufficient resources to invest in our future
  • To anticipate changes and respond proactively


  • To care about our customers and our colleagues
  • To excel through development, teamwork and innovation
Do you think these 'Purpose, Vision, Mission, Values' could be transferable to a library?

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