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Greetings! As some of you may know I am working with School Library Journal and Brian Kenney for two months running a version of Helene Blower’s Learning 2.0 for SLJ staff and readers. Brian wants to open it up far and wide, so please pardon this shameless request for some link love or distribution in your channels to get the word out. I would like to see participants come from everywhere – the US, Canada, UK, Australia, etc etc… 🙂
Brian Kenney announced it here: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/blog/850000285/post/1860029586.html
SLJ’s 2.0 Program Begins July 21
Have you heard of 23 Things, the self-guided program for learning about 2.0 web technology? It was developed by Helene Blowers a couple of years ago at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and since then has been adopted across the country by public and school libraries, districts, and even entire states. It consists of a number of “things,” or small exercises, that you do online to expand your knowledge of the 2.0 web and social networking, from blogs and podcasts to wikis and Twitter.
For a while now (and prodded by our Technology Editor, Kathy Ishizuka) I’ve realized it would be a great idea if all of us here at SLJ went through a “23 Things” like experience. After all, we are always writing about different 2.0 applications, shouldn’t we experience them as well? Walk the walk, talk the talk, and all of that…So I resolved that we’d do it this summer.
Then I got to thinking: if we’re going to do it, why not open it up and invite everyone to join us?
So that’s what we are going to do. But Iwe’re not going it alone; we’ve asked 2.0 guru, Dominican faculty member, and season trainer Michael Stephens to join us for the ride. Beginning Monday, July 21, Michael will author a blog here on SLJ.com that will lead us through the different exercises, offer guidance, answer questions, and even provide a little hand-holding. We’re calling it “All Together Now: A 2.0 Learning Experience.”
There’s no need to sign up–just show up. Again, we’ll begin on July 21 and wrap things up in early September.
My “Gearing Up” post is here: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/blog/290000629.html#530030053
Our work will begin the 21st of July! Starting Monday, I’ll put up a post here — the first of our “things” – with instructions to explore. The first thing is getting a blog and trying out blogging.
I’ve worked with a lot of libraries doing these programs and folks sometimes confess they are scared to dive in. These tools seem too new or hard to use. This program is designed to alleviate those worries. Work at your own pace. Work with a colleague or friend. I kid you not, this is a perfect time and a perfect place to experience these things. These rules will help:
Explore. Try things out. Don’t worry about “breaking” anything! Ask questions. There are no dumb questions. AND It’s okay to make mistakes.
The blog address for the program is: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/blog/290000629.htm
Thanks for the heads up on this Michael!
Back in March, at PLA, I remember Karen Hyman talking about authenticity in the lastest issue of Time magazine. It intrigued me enough to cause me to look into the issue of Time and then also interlibrary loan the book, Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want by James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II.
While the book is definitely geared towards business I think there are lots of ideas that we in the library field can take and use to our advantage with our customers. Gilmore and Pine talk about why we buy what we buy and that currently, people purchase based on how well the items reflect what the person wants to say or project about themselves. Consumers will consider experience and products more real if they have a hand in creating it themselves. What it boils down to is creating an experience that is true to what you say you are.
Steven Bell echoed these sentiments at the FutureTech for Libraries Symposium in June. He explained that we are in an experience economy and that we need to be aware of the expectations that exist regarding services and technology.
So what does this all mean for libraries? Well, let’s think about a few key questions:
- What expectations do users have about your services? Are they positive or negative? Do you meet those expectations, even the negative ones?
- Are your customers able to personalize their services? Do you offer pointed email advisories? Can they customize their experience on your library’s website?
Gilmore and Pine say “Be what you say you are by finding your very own original way for customers to experience your offering in the places you establish” (p.152). It isn’t an easy proposition. It may take lots of work to make the vision and missions of our institutions to match and exceed positive expectations that people have about libraries of all types.
Important to remember is that “What you’ve done is what you are, and what you do is who you become” (p.218).
Sounds like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” Maybe that is exactly what we need to do.
Jon Jiras was kind enough to send along the following information to post here at LG as a follow-up to the earlier Food for Thought interview. Congratulations to Jon and the entire Food for Thought team on a successful event and for providing a model for others to follow. The comments from participants definitely show the value of a campus library providing such a day — plus the fact that Jon says “steal this idea” with no attribution needed really rocks. I can hardly wait to see what 2009 bring for the FFT Team at R.I.T.!
Total number of session registrations: 578
Total number of people who registered online: 212
Total number of people who registered in person: 11
Total number of registrants: 223
Staff: 186 ; Faculty: 19 ; Students: 3 ; Other: 4 Unknown: 11
If you count every seat in every session (of our original room assignments) we were over 73% filled and seven of our sessions filled to at or near room capacity.
Three sessions (Create Your Own Website, Optimizing Outlook, and Facebook and RIT) each had over 50 registrants.
An analysis of first names, indicates that 80% of registrants are female.
Extra Helpings Area:
We took a 36″ x 28″ whiteboard on an easel and had one of our artistic staff members use dry erasable markers to mimic a deli menu with “specials of the day” complete with branding by the co-sponsors Online Learning and Information Technology Services. This area saw only limited use. Eighteen one-on-one appointments were made. The questions ranged from setting up access to the campus wide staff portals, resetting passwords, and how to accomplish specific tasks in MS PowerPoint, MS Word, and MS Outlook. rewarding for both the staff who manned the area and the individuals who came to it with questions. Next year, I think we will move this area to the first floor near the entrance and registration desk where it will get more visibility and we can talk it up during the registration process.
We had five more requests to present a lightning talk than spots available, so we had to turn down some requests. We secured the use of a 30 inch Chinese gong to indicate when the 5 minutes were up. We set up a laptop with a countdown timer set to 5 minutes that someone in the front row displayed to the presenters. The talks included staff from the following departments across campus: Center for Professional Development, RIT Ombudsperson, RIT Public Safety, Online Learning, Academic Intervention and Mentoring Program, Institute Advising Office, Barnes and Noble @ RIT, Wellness Center, Office of the Registrar, and the Library. We will definitely be offering this again next year.
Since the original blog post there have been some questions asked in the comments and through other channels.
1) Is this available to “steal” with credit?
Sure, that’s why I have provided so much information about the planning and marketing. Help yourselves, no attribution necessary.
2) What were the session titles in 2007?
Social Networking with Second Life, MySpace, and Facebook
Planning and Marketing RIT Events
To Bid or Not To Bid: Auction Tips Online and Offline, or, Why Pay Retail?
New Features of Microsoft Office 2007
New Features of Microsoft Windows Vista (offered twice)
Introduction to RSS and Blogging
Introduction to Web 2.0
Origami for the Office
Image Resources to Jazz Up Presentations
Sharing Videos and Pictures on the Web
Organizing with MS Outlook: Calendaring, Contacts, Notes, and Tasks
Self-Publishing with Lulu.com
TechnoStress Relief 101
Art on Campus Walking Tour (offered twice)
Create Your Own Web Site
Optimizing Your Digital Photographs
Wildflowers and Weeds of Western New York
Become a Published Author with InDesign and Photoshop
Easy Creation of Online Tutorials with Adobe Captivate
3.) What was your budget for 2008?
The budget this year was still under $1,000. Several folks have suggested we apply for a grant from the Office of the President, or Staff Council, or some other campus entity to pay for boxed lunches. Which is probably something we will consider.
Here are some results of the 2008 post-event electronic survey:
90 of the 212 registered users filled out the survey.
82% said the Food For Thought website was very good or excellent.
96% said the registration process was very good or excellent.
92% said the variety of sessions offered was very good or excellent
94% either agreed or strongly agreed that the event timing (2nd week of summer quarter) was appropriate
97% said they are likely or very likely to attend again next year.
And here are some of the comments:
The hardest thing about attending Food for Thought was trying to decide what topics to select for the day. There was so much to choose from, great conference.
Excellent program as always. Food For Thought is simply wonderful.
Very successful, love the content, love the idea.
Thanks for another excellent Food for Thought program. It was very well organized and informative.
All the workshops I’ve attended – this year’s as well as last year’s, have been most worthwhile for me.
I know how difficult it is to pull together a day such as this and offer my congratulations for an extremely worthwhile event!!!! Great job.
I truly enjoyed the session on “Understanding RIT’s Students”. This is something that every person on this campus should be required to attend!
It’s a great day and I hope you continue offering it in years to come.
I learned SO much and I’ve used stuff I learned in several sessions already today (and it was only 3 hours ago that I finished the sessions). But it was SO much information in one shot!
Love it. Keep it going!
I am very impressed with all the library’s staff. Good job.
The 1 hour sessions were a bit short. The Lightning Sessions rocked.
More Lightning Talks!
It was very informative, I enjoyed the sessions and learned a lot.
More craft sessions.
Lightning sessions were a nice touch. Do this again.
More sessions offering RIT-specific information – there were several this year, as compared to last year. I think they are very useful.
I would like to see a continuation of topics on how RIT is embracing online communities and usage among our students. RIT & Facebook was an excellent session, I very much enjoyed attending. In general the variation of topics was great.
Food for Thought, a unique day-long learning opportunity organized and hosted by R.I.T Libraries, came to my attention last week via a Facebook update status by my good friend Jon Jiras. I was immediately intrigued by the idea of a campus library leading the way in providing training for all staff on campus in such an innovative format and sent Jon a message asking if he would agree to be interviewed via email for the LG.
Jon is currently Library Technologist at the Rochester Institute of Technology Libraries. I first met Jon in 1996 when we both began working at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva NY. We were both recent graduates in our first professional librarians positions. Jon was a cataloger while I was a reference/ILL librarian and we collaborated on many projects during our two years at HWS, including the creation of the library’s first web portal. We have kept in contact throughout our careers and it is my pleasure to be able to present this interview with Jon that highlights a program that I am absolutely positive others will want to replicate at their own library.
Janie: Can you tell me about the background behind Food for Thought? In particular: What is your role? How did the idea get started for such a day? What were the original goals of the program for the organizing committee?
Jon: The origins for Food For Thought (FFT) stem from two developments. First, a somewhat similar annual event for faculty has been sponsored for several years. The Faculty Institute on Teaching and Learning had been moving away from application specific training and more toward classroom pedagogy and educational innovation. Our library director had been attending and participating in this annual faculty event since its inception. She noticed that the shift away from technological training at this event created a opportunity to develop a day long event that focused on application training.
Secondly, as part of the Library’s strategic planning process, we identified university staff as a constituency for which additional library services could be developed. We noticed that most of the registrants coming to the library’s long standing series of technology training workshops were university staff. So we decided to leverage this success by creating a full day of learning events. No one had ever (to our knowledge) sponsored a complete day’s agenda of learning sessions directed at staff.
A small internal team was formed in Fall of 2006 (four full-time Library staffers) to conceptualize, plan, and promote the project. The team consisted of an array of staff from four different Library departments: Library Technology Services; Reference; Serials/Acquisitions; and Marketing/Communications. I was the representative of the Library Technology Services department and chaired the Food For Thought team. I was responsible for coordinating the efforts of the team, keeping them focused, and acting as liaison to library administration. Organizing and developing this program was so rewarding that I volunteered to chair the team again for 2008.
Some things the FFT team established within the planning process included:
- We decided to format an entire day (9am – 4pm) with multiple “tracks” to allow for the most flexibility to accommodate people with limited free time.
- We wanted to make it like a conference with registration, name tags, tracks, and simultaneous sessions.
- We determined the optimal date to be June 14, 2007; for many reasons all tied to timing and the likelihood of having the most staff available on campus
- We named the program “Food For Thought: A Day of Free Techie and Not-So-Techie Learning Sessions for RIT Staff”
- We established available session venues within our building, spanning three floors.
- We decided to spend the bulk of our limited budget on 3-ring binders to be given to every person who reserved a spot in any of our sessions.
- We decided to spend the remaining budget on light refreshments.
- We set out to brand the event and collaborated with a student employee and another library staff member to create the original graphic identity.
- We involved the entire Library staff in not only sharing ideas, but in helping to shape the schedule. Most of the instructors of the sessions were Library staff.
- We decided to offer “Brown Bag” Lunch-time sessions, to maximize our number of possible sessions and to accommodate those who might only be allowed release time during their lunch hour.
- We decided NOT to invite a keynote speaker. There were some who felt a shared experience of a keynote address would be welcome. FFT team members decided against this as it conflicted with the “a la carte” nature of workshop sessions.
- We knew that many staff could not take the entire day, so we wanted to provide a broad range of topics so they could pick and choose which sessions interested them the most.
The session topics were carefully chosen to provide a balance between application-specific instruction, technology trends, and fun diversions.
Presentations were solicited in three ways.
Individual presenters pitched specific sessions to the FFT team. (For example: Advanced iPod; Create your own website; and Origami for the Office).
The FFT Team invited library staff to brainstorm sessions at an open meeting. Several sessions resulted from this meeting. Technostress 101, The Web 2.0 series, and Organizing with MS Outlook were pitched to FFT team at this session.
In addition, the FFT team approached individual library staff and requested specific topics be covered (such as Windows Vista, MS Office 2007, Adobe Captivate, and the Art on Campus Walking Tour).
This mixture of presenters pitching ideas, the FFT team holding a staff-wide brainstorming session, and the FFT team soliciting specific presenters for specific topics produced a well rounded list of workshops.
We specifically asked that presenters not offer workshops that are already on the list of technology training sessions that the library offers as part of its technology training workshop series that runs throughout the year. Instead, we ask them to develop new workshops on new topics. This is their chance to present on a topic that might not normally be covered in our regular training series. Several of the 2007 FFT sessions became regular sessions in our workshop training schedule.
The Food For Thought team had a total operating budget of $1,000. Here’s a list of expenditures made in the first year:
2007 FFT Budget Expenditures:
3-holed paper: $ 35
3-ring Binders: $ 435
Name Tags: $ 3
Food: $ 200
Marketing: $ 200
Buttons: $ 50
Total: $ 920
The 2008 budget is not yet finalized, but we are planning to spend significantly more on food and to drop the binders in favor of simple paper folders. We will still keep the entire budget at under $1000.
Janie: How many attended last year and what was the response from those who attended? Did you get a good cross-section of employees who work at RIT attending? Is this program open to all RIT employees?
Jon: Food For Thought is directed at RIT staff. However, it is open to any member of the RIT community. RIT staff makes up largest group to attend the event – indicating that the target audience is being served.
Total number of people who registered online: 196 (plus 15 on-site day-of registrations) = 211
Total number of session registrations: 546
Staff: 169 ; Faculty: 21 ; Students: 5 ; Other: 1; Unknown: 15
Number of people registering for:
0 sessions: 11
1 session: 36
2 sessions: 46
3 sessions: 33
4 sessions: 31
5 sessions: 39
52% of registrants registered for 3 or more sessions – indicating that a majority attempted to devote most of their entire day to this event.
Several of the sessions had to be moved to larger venues. We took over a large lecture hall in an adjacent building that holds over 200 people and moved as many sessions there as possible.
If you count every available seat (in the original selections of rooms from 2007), we would end up with an event capacity of 790 seats. The event was 69% filled which is an extraordinarily high response rate.
2008 numbers — so far this year (with 10 days to go till registration closes) we have the following numbers:
Total number of people who registered: 167
Total number of session registrations: 497
Staff: 147 ; Faculty: 16 ; Students: 1 ; Other: 3
0 sessions: 6
1 session: 28
2 sessions: 35
3 sessions: 32
4 sessions: 27
5 sessions: 39
A post-event feedback survey was sent to registered users. We received 75 responses. Ratings for individual sessions were generally “Very Good” or “Excellent.” Ratings for the day as whole were generally “Very Good” or “Excellent.”
Comments from the feedback survey can be broken down into three general areas:
1) Comments about time: These included comments about breaks between sessions, session lengths, the timing of the event, and the number of sessions offered. One frequent comment was that a realistic lunch break should have been factored into the schedule. (That suggestion was incorporated into the 2008 event)
2) Ideas for next year: This category of comment was the most extensive and included these suggestions:
Movie Making Software
Help Grad Students Navigate Thesis Writing
Separate class on PhotoShop
More academic topics like surveys in different disciplines
More tours (printing facilities on campus, Hub, president’s office, dorms).
More fun topics for brown bag sessions (movie discussions, video game discussion etc..
More advanced coverage of In-Design and Creating a Web Site
Very basic class in computers for those who do not use them
Mac orientated sessions
Home computer maintenance
3) Criticisms and suggestions:
Binders were not necessary
Techie sessions seemed much too basic
More extensive handouts
In addition to the survey, the library staff has received many compliments behind the scenes. The Food For Thought Team was nominated for a campus –wide staff excellence award.
Janie: How have you modified Food for Thought this year?
Jon: We repeated only three 2007 sessions in 2008: Create Your Own Website, MS Office 2007, and MS Outlook. All three were highly attended in 2007 and continue to draw well in 2008.
Last year all sessions fell into one of three themes: application specific training, technology trends, or fun diversions. For 2008 we have developed a fourth theme: RIT-specific information. Several workshops were developed with this fourth theme in mind, such as Virtual Worlds: Touring the RIT Island in Second Life, Understanding the RIT Student, Basic Sign Language and Deaf Culture, and Lightning Talks.
Other sessions were consciously modified to incorporate specific aspects of this university’s setting. For example, a proposed “Facebook” session was broadened to become Facebook and RIT. No longer just an overview of Facebook, it will now include information about how Facebook is being used on this campus by various departments and student groups.
For 2008 we have added two new features:
1) We have added an “Extra Helpings” area in the computer lab on the second floor of the library. It is modeled along the lines of the Apple Genius Bar where folks can book one-on-one training sessions with technology staff to get personalized help with whatever technology, application, or other questions they may have. In this way, the content of the day gets to be driven by the registrants themselves. Instead of being limited to a select list of sessions, registrants can bring their issues and needs to the attention of training staff. We collaborated with other campus departments to arrange for additional staffing of this area for the day. Knowledgeable and helpful staff from the university’s central Information Technology Services group and Online Learning are partnering with the Library to staff this area the entire day.
2) Lightning Talks: This special session is modeled along the lines of unconferences and Barcamp where the content of the session is driven by the registrants. Staff from across the campus have agreed to give 5 minute micro presentations on technology they use, services they provide, or anything they think other RIT staff may find of interest. So far we have commitments for 9 (of the 10) 5 minute sessions, so we are confident that all of the micro sessions will fill up.
Both of these new initiatives involve a greater degree of cooperation and collaboration with other campus units. The “Extra Helpings” area has been a great opportunity to reach out to other campus units and get their buy-in with the day as a whole. The “Lightning Talks” in particular allow other campus units to present topics during the day. Limiting their presentations to 5 minute micro-presentations gives them the added advantage of not having to prepare too much for the sessions. To line up the Lightning Talks library staff approached their contacts across campus to pitch the idea. The mere process of approaching these outside departments, discussing the opportunity, and offering the possibility is a networking opportunity and creates awareness of the event and buy-in.
The 2007 Food For Thought event had a few sessions that were co-presented with other staff from across campus. For 2008 we encouraged presenters to collaborate with other campus departments. As a result, one in four sessions have co-presenters who are non-library staff. The “Lightning Talks” session and the additional staffing needed for the “Extra Helpings” area are convenient ways for non-library staff to participate in the event and are a direct result on the 2008 emphasis on encouraging collaboration.
Janie: What topics are proving to be most popular this year? Is this different from last year?
Jon: For both 2007 and 2008, workshops that list specific applications and/or websites in their titles tend to receive more registrations than workshops that do not mention them.
Overall registrations have been very good. We anticipate having over 250 individuals register
Janie: What obstacles (if any) did you have to overcome to get Food for Thought off the ground last year? How long is the planning process?
Jon: Here’s the event planning timeline for 2007:
Feb 20 – FFT team meeting prior to prepare for the Library staff brainstorming session
Feb 26 — hold library staff brainstorming session on possible sessions
Mar 23 — deadline for session presenters/commitments
Apr 13 — deadline for schedule/program confirmation, room reservations
May 15 — publicity kick-off and online registration begins
June 11 – presenter handouts due
June 12 — end registration
June 14 — hold event
A major deliverable for the event was the event website with registration and schedule selection capabilities. It’s a PHP / MySQL website developed in-house: http://library.rit.edu/foodforthought/
A staff view that shows the number of registrations for each sessions, the list of individuals registered for each session, and overall statistical information was created. All presenters were given the username and password to access this staff view of the FFT website.
As with any large event that involves multiple participants and large numbers of people – it’s the details and logistics that are the most challenging.
Janie: Is this a model that can be adapted elsewhere?
Jon: The Rochester Institute of Technology is a mid-sized, private, academic university with 1,900 staff, 1,300 faculty, and 16,000 students. This program may have to be scaled down (or up) for smaller (or larger) institutions. We have declared 200 registrations (just over 10% of staff) to be successful. The hardest part is lining up quality presentations that don’t compete with other staff development opportunities on campus and have presenters willing to present them. The RIT Libraries is fortunate for having a number of librarians and technical staff who not only have the ability to develop and present quality presentations, but more importantly, the eagerness and willingness to do so.
Janie: Is there any other information you wish to share?
A large part of the time and effort of the FFT team was spent on marketing and promotional materials. We used all of the following as promotional devices:
– PowerPoint displays (teasers) on our Plasma Screen.
– Bookmarks (handed out at Circ).
– Pins (tin buttons) in two different designs, worn by our entire staff for the weeks leading to the event.
– Full-color Posters (variety of graphics; in three sizes- tabloid, letter-size and a custom size).
– Electronic (email) messages sent on multiple dates leading to event.
– Created a customized website with original graphics, an interactive component and complete with online registration capabilities.
– Advertised on thermal Circulation Desk receipt printers (like a store imprints a message).
– Outdoor (exterior) Digital Message Boards (animated text) for three weeks prior.
– Promoted the event on the Library web site, including our scrolling News Ticker that highlights special events and services.
– Published an article and our Logo (branding) in campus newspaper News & Events one month before the event.
– Highlighted (advertised) the event on the Library’s “What’s New?” web page.
– Created custom Binder Covers (color) for each binder (200) we prepared.
– Created color Cover Sheets for each presenter’s section within each binder.
– Created and printed out a condensed complete Session Schedule as hand-outs.
– Created a Press Release, sent to University News.
– Designed and created PowerPoint Templates to assist presenters in creating their PowerPoint slides; ensured a consistent branding and a format that was uniform (optional if they wanted to use the templates).
– Created a Facebook event page and encouraged library staff to invite their RIT Staff Facebook friends to the event via Facebook.
A sample of our promotional materials is available here: http://library.rit.edu/foodforthought/FFT2008MarketingSamples.pdf
For both 2007 and 2008 we asked all library staff to reach out to their staff contacts across campus to get our promotional material into areas we don’t normally cover. Instead of merely placing posters in hallways and public areas, we devised a way to get our posters into staff break rooms, copy rooms, and other staff-only areas.
We requested all library staff to take a variety of posters, flyers, bookmarks, etc… and hand deliver them to their staff contacts across campus. We had library staff record where they dropped off this material and who they had contacted about it. As a result, our promotional material reached areas of the campus we have never previously covered and the mere act of reaching out and visiting other departments on campus drummed up interest.
Janie: I would like to thank Jon and the entire Food For Team at RIT for providing the readers of Library Garden with such a detailed overview of their highly successful program and for all the planning process information. Best wishes with all of your plans for June 10th and please keep us updated after the event with new statistics.
Jon Jiras has worked at the Rochester Institute of Technology Libraries since 1998. His interests include the support, maintenance, development, and integration of library technologies. For more information about this event please contact Jon at jjjwml at rit dot edu.
Have you had a chance to vote in the Doodle 4 Google contest? If not, it is not too late to view all the wonderful submissions that made it to the finals and then vote for your favorites by this Sunday, May 18.
Doodle 4 Google is a competition where K-12 students were invited to reinvent Google’s homepage logo around the theme of”What if…?” Thousands of doodles were submitted and 40 finalists have been selected. Each doodle also contains a caption that expands upon the “What if…” statement. For example:
What if everyone recycled? Would Earth have a chance for survival? If we start today imagine what can happen tomorrow.
What if the whole world rocked? I think that people can express themselves in a creative and energetic way with music. I think that the whole world would be happier if they rocked out to the music they love.
Great thoughts and great doodles galore! The votes will help select a national winner to replace the usual logo on the Google homepage on May 22, 2008.
Now for the TwoFer deal:
The manager of adult services at MPOW recently reactivated a long neglected blog that never quite got off the ground for its original purpose and turned it in to what we have started to call “The Reference Gong Show”. Check out PPL Reference, a blog where we are discussing each week an item from our reference collection and whether or not the librarians on staff vote to keep it or let it go. Budgets are tight and we are trying to determine the best use of our funds. The entries and work we are doing is serious, but the comments often stray to the humorous. (This perhaps could have gone under the heading of “steal this idea”, but I felt like it was twofer type of day).
Last week I had 2 really BAD customer service experiences. So awful that it made my staff and I send notes to 2 different organizations that have never been anything but pleasant and helpful. But I think that what I experienced is a good reminder for those of us that do customer service (and we all do!) on a regular or daily basis.
On Saturday, my Library held a Blood Drive through the American Red Cross. They were bringing the bus and asked us to have 45 donors sign up. At first we were having trouble getting donors. As an incentive, we decided to give away t-shirts to those that signed up and then arrived to donate on the day of the blood drive. We went through a local store to order the t-shirts, with the understanding that we could pick them up the day before the drive. Friday came and in the afternoon we got a phone call telling us that he was having trouble with one of the graphics. (UM . . . wait . . . aren’t the shirts supposed to be done already??) We scramble to make sure that we have something that he can do quickly (and the shirts did look good in the end) but when we arrived at the store, he was downright rude. As if this were all our problem, not his. We were shocked. I have never been treated so poorly in a store! He was even rude about the graphics and whether they were done by a professional graphic designer! I couldn’t believe it. I always try to do business in town, where possible. However, this really left a bad impression.
Conversely, one of my staff, after experiencing this, sent an email to Charlie at our local UPS Store, with whom the Library does lots of business! She just wanted to thank him for always going out of his way to accommodate us, even when we wait to the last minute.
My other negative experience was personal. I decided this year that I would take my tax refund and pay off my one remaining student loan from my undergrad degree that hasn’t been bought by Sallie Mae. I called a month ago, received the payoff amount and made the payment online through my bank. Last week I received a notice saying that I was delinquent! How was that possible?? I call and was told that maybe my bank made a mistake (in when the check was cashed), that the payment was late, and that I still owed them money! After being on hold for a considerable amount of time, he informs me that he will have to look into this and get back to me!
This experience prompted me to email my contact at the Credit Union that held my very first student loan to thank her again for always being courteous and friendly and helpful.
How often in the daily grind are we unaware of how our actions or tone of voice affect those we serve? Maybe we have had a bad day or are frustrated because we are really trying to help the customer or patron but are struggling to really be of assistance. I think the old saying that about a satisfied customer telling one person and a dissatisfied customer telling ten is probably true! Maybe we should all take the time to thank those that really do provide outstanding customer service! And remind ourselves how great it is to get that service when we are feeling like the customer service we are providing could use some improvement!