Merchandising: Attractiveness as a form of access
As the Trading Spaces: Reinventing the Library Environment project demonstration site we had the opportunity to get retail fixtures such as book gondolas, CD browsers and slat wall. We’ve also had training on how to keep our library collections both accessible and attractive to customers.
It’s worked! Our circulation leapt by 39% the first year and it’s been rising ever since.
Well, learning how to merchandise is one thing.
Our merchandising goal for all staff is to spend on average 5 minutes each hour keeping the displays looking full (that’s about 30+ minutes a day for our full-time staff).
Keeping it all looking good, all the time, is another matter!
Have you ever been in a store that looks “picked over”? Well, it’s the same in a library if you don’t keep up on merchandising the collection.
Success means more circulation and that means we’re constantly filling in gondolas, flipping books cover out, and adding onto slat wall displays. In practice though, it’s hard to keep everyone focused on why it’s important and incorporate it into our daily routine.
To keep our eyes looking at the library from a customer point-of-view, we’ve just started is a twice weekly Walk-About. It’s a way for staff, individually or in a small groupers, to walk through the library and note:
- what looks good (to celebrate success)
- what area needs immediate attention (today, let’s do it now–together)
- what area needs work next
All of our staff share this task through a weekly rotation among our departments. We’ve also created Walk-About sheets to help staff keep track and make it easier to report back at our morning briefings (a quick heads-up meeting before the library opens).
One of the side benefits (besides improving the look of the library displays) is that it encourages everyone to get out and really see the entire library — even those areas they don’t usually work in.
The result — a better looking library and and better informed staff.