10 steps to a library value proposition

96783498Libraries are embracing new opportunities to help better serve its students, teachers and researchers. The starting point is not always by thoroughly analyzing your current users and analyzing the surrounding contexts together with a multi-disciplinary team that really knows your users.

The Business Model Canvas can help you design a really customer-centred service portfolio. It can be used as a great strategic development and communication tool for staff, senior management and other stakeholders.

The Business Model Canvas was invented by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigner. For more information on the whole canvas, see http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/canvas/bmc

The Business Model Canvas is an excellent tool to help you describe, analyze and visualize your business model. In other words, such a model can help show you and your team and others how your library creates and delivers value to certain target groups, e.g. Bachelor students, Master students, PhD students, lecturers, Professors, administrators, in various contexts.


The Business Model Canvas, Strategyzer.com

For this month’s blog, using this model, I will focus on helping you get the key activities, pains and gains of your Customer Segment (1) clear for example, and relate your Value Proposition (2) to this knowledge. With value proposition, I mean the service offer that creates value for your customers or users.

Taking a practical example, I will take PhD students as one of the customer segments you could do more for. At this point, try not to think too much about specific service solutions for your PhD students; focus on their pains and gains first.

Your customer segment

1.  Select a customer segment / target group that you need to focus on. Hone in on it with a multi-disciplinary team that knows your users well.

Bus_Model_CustomerPIE2.  Then identify the jobs and tasks your PhD student aims to get done and list them in a customer/ user pie as shown in the diagramme.

3.  Next, consider the pains associated with these tasks and list any obstacles and challenges.

4.  As a following step, identify what they aim to gain through their jobs & tasks.

5.  As a final analysis step, prioritize the jobs, pains and gains of your PhD student. This will help you come to a list that highlights the most important aspects you need to address in your value proposition, i.e. the most valuable service offer you could create for your students in this case.

6.  Verify this knowledge with your PhD students before going any further.

Your value proposition

7.  Analyze your value proposition by creating a value map.

8.  Now turn back to your PhD’s pains list, and consider pain relievers. Then rank them in order of importance for your PhD student/supervisor.

9.  Then call on their gains and list the gain creators to create valuable outcomes. Rank these gains also in order of importance for your PhD student/supervisor.

10.  Fill this value map with a list of products and services that will answer the pains and gains of your users.


You’re on the road to developing a strong business model for your library.  Other blocks such as what types of customer relationships you have, what channels you have to get your value proposition to your customers, etc. will come in a later blog post.

You will need time to further explore other aspects of the Business Model Canvas to create the more complete picture of the context that will influence and impact the success of your services. If you’d like someone from outside to help get your picture clear with your team also as a team-building exercise, drop me a mail: vproudman@proud2know.eu.