Archive for May, 2006
Just a quick congrats to Library Garden blogger Robert Lackie on receiving the 2006 Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship. The award is given annually to honor an individual for contributing significantly to the public recognition and appreciation of librarianship through professional performance, teaching, and/or writing.
Robert Lackie is being recognized for his contributions in promoting the library profession in the academic, public, and school library sectors through his extensive teachings, writings, and professional service. Described by Vibiana Bowman, Rutgers University, as an “an indefatigable ambassador for librarianship,” Lackie is quite well-known among library and educational professionals in the mid-Atlantic region as a dynamic and enthusiastic teacher, educator, and speaker; he has taught a legendary number of courses ranging from basic library instruction sessions and professional development training programs to graduate library science courses at Rutgers University.
If you’re lucky enough to know Robert, or to have worked with him in any capacity, this award certainly comes as no surprise. His generosity, energy, caring, and commitment know no bounds. So congratulations Robert! For my money, this recognition couldn’t have gone to a more worthy librarian. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to work with you, hopeful that we will work together again in the future, and proud to be your friend.
I am always on the lookout for new, interesting articles and blogs that might be of interest to librarians in NJ, particularly, and of course, to all of us in the library field, in general. Well, the new blog by Nancy Dowd of the New Jersey State Library is one of them! As the Outreach and Marketing Specialist there, she has recently introduced a new blog called “The M Word”, which in the spirit of the NJ State Library’s “ongoing commitment to help NJ libraries better tell their story to the public, policy makers, and the press,” has provided another avenue for us to easily connect to interesting materials, articles, and ideas related to the marketing of libraries. So, if you are thinking about how you can better market your library’s services and resources, in addition to reading our “Library Garden” posts, such as Peter Bromberg’s current “Tips” blogs, I would recommend taking a look at “The M Word” when you get a moment–she is especially interested in librarians sharing “ideas, thoughts, and support to marketing problems.” The URL for her blog is http://themwordblog.blogspot.com/ . I especially liked her blogs about GE’s use of MySpace (I am so into social networking sites now and promise to post more on these soon!) recently because of its great “word of mouth advertising platform.” Companies, and now libraries, are beginning to use different media to communicate with everyone, beyond the print and regular media outlets, and think that we, as librarians, can jump onto that bandwagon, too, as Nancy suggests, to get the word out about our libraries. Nice job, Nancy!
OK, I’ve been meaning to post this idea for over a week, so it serves me right that I got beaten to the proverbial punch by Stephen Abram, who appropriately titled his post, “an idea worth stealing.”
The idea? Keep a log at every service desk and note every time a customer is told “no”, or “we can’t do X”, or any other variation on the theme of denying the customer what they want or need.
Look at the logs on a regular basis and evaluate whether those ‘nos’ can be turned to ‘yesses’. I recommend reviewing the nos while keeping in mind Michael Stephens’ “Five Factors for User Centered Services”
- Does it place a barrier between the user and the service?
- Is it librarian-centered or user-centered in conception, i.e. is it born from complaints from librarians about users?
- Does it add more rules to your bulging book of library rules, procedures and guidelines? The more rules you make the more quickly library users will turn you off.
- Does it make more work for the user or the librarian?
- Does it involve having to damage control before you even begin the service?
I’m not suggesting that every no be turned to a yes. But I am suggesting that your customer service will improve if you every ‘no’ is critically evaluated.
I spent some time with Leslie this morning getting her flickr account personalized and organized. This photo is from her recent tour of New Orleans and the Mississippi Coast. She will be uploading many more pictures in the near future and plans to share her travels and adventures as President-elect/President of ALA not only only on her blog but also on her flickr account. How cool is that?
Breaking News: Library Garden has “the scoop” from a reliable source!
ALA President-Elect Leslie Burger will host a gathering for bloggers in her suite at the Hilton on Saturday June 24th after the Scholarship Bash (starting around 10:30 pm and going until midnight). It will be an informal event, great for networking, unwinding and catching up with bibliobloggers both old and new. So why not plan to take in Mary Chapin Carpenter at the official Bash and then head over to the Hilton for the after-bash blogger bash.
More details to be forthcoming, just be sure to mark your calendars. Please rsvp by leaving a comment here on Library Garden if you plan on attending so everyone can see who will be there — and to make sure you get final details (aka precise location) when they are available drop me an email: jhermann at princetonlibrary dot org. Spread the word!
Oh, and if you are wondering how Library Garden got this breaking news… check my blogger profile and you might notice that I have “connections” to LB… and she is my reliable source. I just finished meeting with her and she has asked me to promote and coordinate.
Granted, many libraries already excel in this area, but it’s worth mentioning. In my first “test” post I joked that, “If we can get [baby ducks] to come in for quacky time when they’re still fuzzy, cute, and let’s face it a little impressionable, I think we’ll have them for life.” But seriously folks, if we give teens a positive, engaging, welcoming library experience, there’s a much greater chance that we will keep them for life (or at least through their first molting season.)
And I don’t think that a positive, engaging, and welcoming experience is at odds with the necessary boundary setting that has to happen with teens. I never felt more loved and welcomed than when Carol Kuhlthau was throwing me out of my high school library! (I had an inkling that defacing magazine covers by cutting out the noses and mouths and wearing them as masks was not appropriate behavior.) I appreciated that I had done something wrong and Carol always welcomed me and my friends back. I guess she realized that when we weren’t goofing around we were actually doing some reading.
So how do we make libraries welcoming and engaging for teens? There’s the basics: Smile at them. Treat them as you would other customers. Anticipate and meet their needs. What needs? Stephen Abram suggests letting teens bring their skateboards into the library:
“Why don’t we have a skateboard rack inside the library? Why would we have our patrons risk their independence if their skateboard is lost or stolen? How would they get to the library? We should support them. A skateboard box, Rubbermaid storage container or simply a towel bar by the service desk is a simple solution that provides a service instead of a negative interaction. It’s welcoming. Buy or get a second hand old skateboard and a few sticky letters that say WELCOME. Why wouldn’t we do this? It’s a cheap visible proof of welcoming attitudes.”
Aaron Schmidt suggests (gasp) letting them use the stapler (that generated a LOT of discussion across many blogs–worth following.) Back in a previous incarnation when I served as a YA librarian I set up a modest homework center with paper, scissors (double-gasp), hole punch, white out, pens, pencils, highlighters, paperback dictionaries and thesauri all located in a little 3 shelf bookcase–just for teens! If they’re asking us for it, why not provide it? (Please don’t say “money”: paper, pens and a few staplers a year–yes they walk occasionally–aren’t going to break the bank.)
Beyond the basics (smiling, scold-free service) there are so many good ideas out there for serving teens it’s hard to know where to start. So why not start here at the BIG IDEAS, NOW: teens @ your library conference that took place April 30-May 1, 2004, at Trinity College University of Toronto. There are a lot of goodies here so I’ll highlight a few:
- Keynote address by past YALSA President Michael Cart
- Notes from breakout session, Attracting Teens/Selling Teen Services to Staff and Administration
- Notes from breakout session, Adolescent Development and Libraries (good ideas on why teens come to the library and what we can do to meet their needs)
- Notes from breakout session, Librarians New to Working with Teens
Thanks Ontario Library Association for continuing to host such a valuable resource!
I recently presented a workshop on “Conflict Resolution” at the NJ Library Association conference and I have been thinking more about the idea of “state vs. trait” and the importance of being aware of how we interpret the behavior of others in library service encounters. Our judgments often depend on how well we know the other person.
If someone we know (and like or love) is rude or cold to us on any given day, we are likely to think “He’s just having a bad day,” or “Something must be wrong with her today.” In other words, we think that our friend is temporarily upset, in a bad mood, or in a bad state. We are able to give that person the benefit of the doubt and may even excuse their somewhat nasty behavior because we know that this is not their usual personality. Our first reaction is to become concerned and to ask “what’s wrong?” or “what’s going on with you today?”
If, however, we don’t know someone at all (as is the case for most library service encounters) and this person is rude or cold to us, we are much more likely to think “What an awful person” or “What’s their problem?” or even “What an expletive deleted!” We think that the person has a bad trait. We are unable to excuse their bad behavior since we assume that they are always like that. Our first reaction is to be offended. We may not be able to resist the urge to snap back with a tart retort and then conflict ensues.
For service excellence in libraries, if we are able to think of the grumpy, stressed, or otherwise annoying people we encounter as nice people possibly having a bad day or being temporarily stressed out, this would enable us to be more sympathetic. We could then perhaps respond by asking “What’s wrong?” or “Can I help you, you seem upset today?” We could openly acknowledge that they seem stressed or upset, that we understand that they are a bit fragile today, and they may be in need of a little bit of TLC. If we can see argumentative or grouchy people as being in a bad state rather than having a nasty trait, and if we react to them in a more caring way, many potential conflicts can be averted or defused.
On the days when I am stressed or rushed or hungry and tired while running a bunch of errands, I would just love it if those I encounter at service desks could understand that I am usually quite lovable and kind. Yes, I am a bit grumpy and fragile today, but I am having a really bad day.