The Library for Foreign Literature (Moscow, Russia) ran the series of webinars covering cultural management issues and titled “WE ARE TOGETHER: Interaction with Library Users as Instrument to Ensure Audience Growth.  Inostranka Case” (April-May 2020).  

By Alexandr Parshin in cooperation with Svetlana Gorokhova and Daria Belyakova. All Russia State Library for Foreign Literature, Moscow, Russia.

We all share the same difficulties going online and being unable to run services offline – challenge that forces us to share experience and make best practices to become widely spread all over the cultural industry.

The Library for Foreign Literature ran the series of online master-classes (professional webinars) in April 2020 examining methodological principles and practical aspects of how to conduct surveys, to study customer pattern of behavior, to involve users in different library projects, to make a system of feedback analysis, to prepare strategic plan, etc. These issues are of high relevancy throughout the industry in pre-pandemic times but now it is high time to have a new look at the importance of conversation about the library users and amendment of strategic plans.  We also need to take into account that the aggressive environment (quarantine restrictions) exposes the internal problems.

The series of webinars was designed to fulfill the interests of professional audience (overall library management, project activities specialists, etc.). The idea was to share best practices of the Library for Foreign Literature (the institution that ensured 3 times attendance growth in 2 years) and give our colleagues practical instruments to use in there professional activities.

Webinar topics include:

  1. Tools to study the library audience.
  2. Strategic planning: analysis of user profiles, interests, and preferences.
  3. Involving users into the library project activities (volunteer programs).
  4. Evaluation of customer services: “mystery patrons”.
  5. Various channels of communication with the library audience.
  6. Feedback from users (suggestions, complaints) and the culture of everyday changes.

Webinar series Schedule :

1.“Audience Research and Strategic Planning”, 24th April 2020, 11:00 am.   Practical aspects of conducting surveys in the library, conclusions drawn from the data collected and examples of making strategic decisions.

  1. “Volunteer programs in the library”, 30th April 2020, 11:00 am. Volunteer programs that allow the younger generation to actively participate in current library development projects focusing on the mechanisms of attracting volunteers, mentoring, and improving project management.
  2. “Mystery Patrons in Libraries”, 14th May 2020, 11:00 am. “Mystery patrons”: instruction, legends assignment, monitoring, collecting and analyzing research data.
  3. “Conflict Management and the System of Interaction with the Library Users”, 21st May 2020, 11:00 am. Scale of interaction with the user, principles of conflict management in the library.

Today we can share the results of the 1st webinar.

The first webinar was addressed to a professional audience – specialists of cultural institutions. More than 60 library specialists from Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Ryazan, Pskov, Novosibirsk, Syktyvkar, Sakhalin, Petrozavodsk and other regions of Russia joined the webinar.

Watch the video of the event (in Russian) on library’s YouTube channel here. You can acquaint with the presentation materials (also in Russian) on the Web site of the library. The event was interactive: surveys were conducted during the webinar among the participants. There were a lot of comments from the colleagues and a good response. During the webinar in the Zoom chat and Q&A were actively used.

The webinar included theory and an empirical part. Speakers underlined main points of the research prior to the surveys and audience analysis. Then bullet points on review of pattern of library users behavior was discussed. Next step was to figure out the connection between the strategic planning in the cultural institution and the different groups of the audience.

We will be exited to share materials of the next three webinars. All materials are in Russian but, if the need will be shown, we are ready to provide the summary in English. Please contact us at