Archive for November, 2006

Making Sure the Policy Meets Its Purpose

A friend of mine works in a library that is having trouble with a specific group of teens. They were coming in, getting on the computers and causing a ruckus (I love that word) by looking at inappropriate sites, shouting to each other and making the atmosphere uncomfortable for other patrons in general. This went on for about two weeks and showed no signs of slowing down. Obviously, something had to be done. The supervisors decided to take charge of the situation and put forth a policy which they felt would end teen shenanigans once and for all…

Any patrons under 18 must present a school ID or have a library card in order to use a computer.

And the result?

A local private school does not use photo IDs, therefore some of these students cannot use the computers. As with most communities, there is a group of children who are unable to get cards because of their parents accumulating large fines, they are now unable to use the computers. Teens who are “in transition”, have neglecting or abusive parents, homeless, or unable to get their parents signature for whatever are all banned from using the computers in the library as well.

So, does the policy meet its purpose? Even taking the most utilitarian positions on this policy would tell you that a lot more people are negatively affected than helped by its implementation. Ultimately, the result of this policy is simply less teens on the computers and the only way the policy could be considered successful from this is by assuming that all teens are the problem, not just the aforementioned troublemakers.

Speaking of which; if anyone is wondering how the unruly teens are dealing with this policy, not to worry… They all have school IDs and are still having a good time.

November 29, 2006 at 9:32 am 5 comments

Angry Librarian from You Tube

Thanks to John V. Richardson and Ward Smith from UCLA who drew my attention to this “Angry Librarian” post from The Quattlebaum comedy troupe. How many “customer service” or service excellence mistakes does this librarian make?

Direct URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XvAakX__cQ

November 28, 2006 at 6:51 pm 5 comments

Fried brain potpourri

The past few weeks have been post-free for me for a number of reasons: A week on Caribbean cruise (unspoiled by any sun, mind you) a week of catch-up (2 days just to revive my email which was almost fatally wounded by the avalanche of spam that built up in my absence) and a week, prior to the cruise, dealing with health issues (my own and the cat’s.— we’re both much improved thank you.)

Suffice it to say that I have:
1) A bit of fried brain
2) A lot of bits and pieces of possible posts lying around in draft.

Here then, be the bits and pieces for your piecing and, uh, biting pleasure.

  1. Reading and enjoying Danny Meyer’s book, Setting the Table. I particularly like Meyer’s distinction between customer service and hospitality–something I never thought about before. Meyer writes, “ Hospitality exists when you believe the other person is on your side. The converse is just as true. Hospitality is present when something happens for you. It is absent when something happens to you. Those two simple prepositions –for and to express it all.”

  2. I love this piece from Seth’s Godin’s Blog: “Here’s the short version: If you try to teach a customer a lesson, you’ve just done two things: a. failed at teaching a lesson and b. lost a customer” Amen! If the customer receives ‘service’ but feels like it’s being given as a favor, or worse, with reluctance or a with punitive spirit, then the customer might take their bidness elsewhere.

  3. A Customer Service Shout Out to Comcast. I dumped Verizon DSL last year after years of service because my Internet went out one day and they didn’t care. And that is the mercifully short version! I promptly ordered Comcast Internet and have been enjoying their speedy connection ever since. Until my Internet slowed to near halt a few days ago and my cable tv went on the fritz at the same time.

    I called Comcast and quickly got through to a live human being (my favorite kind, mind you.) They said they could be out the next morning, but that wasn’t good for me, so we scheduled the morning after. Not only did the nice Comcast man show up 1/2 hour early, he was pleasant, professional, communicative, quick, and ended his visit by saying, “of course there will no charge today.” Of course!

    I don’t know if it’s just that my expectations have been so severely lowered by so many terrible interactions (with Verizon, with banks, with my oil company, etc., etc.) but boy did I feel good about Comcast. Even better than I did before my Internet and TV fritzed out. It’s almost a bit cliche, but how true nonetheless – every service problem is an opportunity to strengthen the connection with the customer.

  4. From “Dont Coddle Me at Work” courtesy of the Chief Happiness Officer: “Before people can be happy at work, the thinking goes, they must be shielded from all manner of ills: angry customers, unrealistic deadlines, unfair decisions, overwork, boring meetings, stress, annoying co-workers, insecurity, diffiult situations, hard choices – you name it. Wrong. The best and happiest workplaces in the world haven’t become so by shielding their people from problems, but by giving their people the skills, the energy and the freedom to deal constructively with problems.” Hey, that sounds just like Nordstrom. Don’t set rules designed to deal with every possible worst case scenario; give your employees the power to deal with problems if and when they occur. Like Robert Spector writes in Lessons From the Nordstrom Way, “Dump the Rules!” Each one is a barrier between you and your customer.
  5. Lovin the Elf! Library Elf, that is. I signed up for Library Elf last week after attending an informative presentation by Ralph Bingham of the Gloucester County Library System. GCLS has been actively promoting Library Elf to the delight of their customers. I didn’t think I would be able to participate since my library is a Triple I shop, but lo and behold the good people at Library Elf set me right up. I mentioned this to an administrator at my local library who was happy to hear the news. A recent customer survey had just revealed that “underdue” notices were greatly desired. This is the kind of simple convenient service that can have a great impact on customer satisfaction and also raise employee morale by reducing staff contacts with grumpy customers complaining about fines.
  6. Just throwing this out there… Is it time to move Library Garden from Blogger to Typepad? Blogger, oh blogger. You seduced me with your simplicity. Those come hither eyes. So easy. So cheap. You’ll still respect yourself in the morning you whispered. But you’ve changed. Were you always this freaking tempermental? And your dirty code! Oh, is it dirty… I can write a post in 10 minutes but then you ask me to spend the next four hours trying to get my font sizes right. You don’t let me spice up our posts with photos anymore. I don’t know Blogger, maybe it’s me. Maybe I’ve grown. Let’s face it, we’ve grown apart. I need a software that’s more stable, more predictable. Someone I can grow old with… (I haven’t discussed this with my fellow Gardeners, but maybe it’s time to go with something a little more professional. What do you think guys?? Do I spend my December vacation time tranferring us to Typepad?)

November 22, 2006 at 1:00 pm 10 comments

NJ Libraries on Flickr

Kudos to Nancy Dowd, Director of Marketing at the NJ State Library, and Blogger-in-Chief over at The M Word, for creating a new Flickr group for New Jersey library events.

[PS I'm posting this with Windows Live Writer, which I'd read some good things about. So far I like it! Let's see how this looks on the other end...]

November 21, 2006 at 2:01 pm 1 comment

Advice from a Spin Doctor for Librarians

I just read Librarians ‘Should be Sexier’ on thisislondon.co.uk and I actually had to read it twice to be certain that this was a serious article. Yes, it would now appear that it has been decided by a “senior spin doctor” that the word librarian should be banned because it connotates too many negative images. Oh, and apparently the way that we can ensure the health and vitality of libraries is to hire based upon appearance — we need to make sure we staff our libraries only with beautiful people. The article does mention that librarians in Britain are disgusted with this suggestion, but I can’t believe that anyone even had the gall to suggest it in the first place. Maybe we need to ban the word politican because of the negative connotations or the word lawyer… just my quick two cents for the day.

November 16, 2006 at 9:44 pm 4 comments

Broken signage

I’ve been away from the blog for what feels like a while–but for a good reason! My wife and I met up with some friends that came from the west coast and we did a seven day cruise to the western Caribbean. Lots of rain, no sun, but a good time was still had by all. We swam with dolphins, played with monkeys, ate, slept, read. Who needs the sun anyway?

I never had any desire to vacation on a cruise ship, and while the service and food was generally excellent (with a few notable exceptions), the cruise ship experience is probably just not my bag.

Anyhoo, I’ll get around to getting the monkey and dolphin pics up on flickr, but in the meantime I thought this picture was worth sharing. Yup, that’s the emergency exit door on deck 1 of the Carnival Valor. What message does this sign send to the passengers? I think it should be subtitled, “In case of emergency, good luck suckers!” Hey Carnival, let’s barter: You give me a free seven day cruise and I’ll give you a kick-ass signage audit. :-)

November 8, 2006 at 11:58 am 3 comments

The flickr Fifteen


Flickr Flier
Originally uploaded by janielianne.

This morning I taught our first official flickr class in the technology center. We asked for registration, but somehow this beautiful flier designed by our PR department left off that detail and I missed it during proofreading. The funny thing is that even though we only had 9 people register with 7 of them actually showing up, we still ended up with an overflow crowd of 15 thanks to this poster. It was my fault for not catching this sooner and so I did my best to accomodate 15 students in our 12 seat lab.

Everyone was willing to share a computer so that no one had to leave. Next week several people will bring their own laptops and use our wireless connection so that we will have enough computers to go around. I will also have one of my tech assistants help me teach so that we can be more hands on. Problem solved.

What really amazed me about the participants was how savvy they already were with photo sharing. Out of the 15 students only 2 had never done any online photo sharing before. Most had used 1.0 photo sites and 1 even had already set up their flickr account. Also, only 3 people needed to set up Yahoo! accounts.

Next week is the second class and I hope that all of my flickr 15 return for more flickr fun.

November 7, 2006 at 9:19 pm 4 comments

Where are the 2.0 Classes in Public Libraries?

I often visit the web sites of libraries of all sizes to see what they are currently offering for computer classes and other technology training sessions. Over the last several weeks I have looked at 30+ class calendars posted on library web sites and of those only a handful were offering classes on a regular basis that touched upon Web 2.0 technologies.

I looked at the training calendars of 4 very large library systems and did not see any indication that they were teaching 2.0 and (in fact) they were still mainly teaching classes such as “Meet the Mouse” and “Intro to Email”. I know these classes are still needed by many and I am in no way advocating that they be replaced nor implying that they are obsolete. Courses for beginners are still crucial, but they do need to be supplemented to meet the needs of the more advanced computer user. Class offerings need to be kept current to keep training programs fresh.

My question of the day is: Where are the 2.0 classes?

I am optimistic that libraries are busy writing up lesson plans and planning to launch new classes soon. Many libraries that integrate blogs, wikis, RSS and flickr as part of their services and web sites have not yet made the important leap to educating their customers about these technologies in the same way that we taught them about OPACs when we ditched our card catalogs and about email and the Web when we started offering Internet access. Perhaps they plan to do this in the near future?

I sincerely hope that the replies to this post will indicate that there are many, many more libraries out there teaching courses on blogging, flickr, RSS and other new technologies than I am currently finding on my informal and somewhat happenstance survey method. Nothing would make me happier than to get a flood of replies to this post that proves me wrong — that 2.0 technologies are being taught.

It seems to me that a lot of the smaller libraries are moving forward with offering 2.0 classes before their larger counterparts. Princeton Public Library (aka MPOW) is currently teaching four 2.o courses — Become a Blogger, Fun with Flickr, What’s the Fuss about RSS, and Fantastic Freebies (which is a round-up of 2.0 sites) — as well as courses such as Digital Camera Test Drive, Downloading eAudiobooks and Sharing Photos Online. We will soon offer a course on bloglines and one on tagging/folksonomy. Here is a quick sampling of some other libraries that I found who are teaching 2.o:

Lansing Public Library in Illinois is offering classes on how to use bloglines, how to establish a blog and how to use Juice to create a custom radio station using podcasts.

Johnson County Public Library has a course called Cyber Six-Pack: Six Online Gadgets That Are Fun, Free and Easy to Use that is similar to the Fantastic Freebies we teach here at PPL.

Providence Public Library has a good assortment of classes including a 90 minute introduction to blogging.

Darien Public Library is currently offering classes on podcasting and blogging this fall and has a good selection of courses for advanced users (a good example of a library taking their training beyond the basics).

I know that in the past Reading Public Library has tried do some classes on flickr (but according to the cached copy I found using Google it had to be cancelled) and I see that Skokie Public Library has also offered at least one flickr class.

This post has been several weeks in the making (I just never got around to finishing it) and in the mean time I did notice that this was a topic at Internet Librarian 2006 in a session called Technology Training in a Library 2.0 World (a good summary can be found at Library Web Chic), so I know I am not the only thinking about this and how we can encourage others to jump on the “Teaching 2.o Bandwagon”. Let me know what you are doing or hope to do soon, I love learning about what others are up to with their technology training.

November 2, 2006 at 11:37 pm 13 comments


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