Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Improving the Library Experience

I have been thinking a lot about customer service lately. Two of my favorite places to eat and shop are Publix and Chick-Fil-A. If you're not in the south you may not be familiar with these two chains, but I love them. Publix's slogan is "Where shopping is a pleasure." And for me I can say it is. One of the only things I miss from my previous home is a nearby Publix grocery store. The employees are so nice and they do not act irritated if you ask a question. Chick-Fil-A is the same. The employees are friendly and go out of their way to help you. After ordering they usually say "It's my pleasure." There's that word again.
The way these two businesses treat their customers and the way they train their employees does make visiting a pleasure. How can I translate this into the library?
Do I help every student and teacher with a smile? Or do I act annoyed if I'm interrupted?
I consider myself a patient person, but I know there have been times when I've probably acted annoyed. I think I'm going to put a little Publix and Chick-Fil-A logo somewhere near my computer to remind me how much my attitude can affect those that come into the library.
Are my library helpers pleasant to visiting students? Do I need to spend more time training them to be helpful and friendly?
We should all ask ourselves these same questions. Is your library a pleasurable place to visit?

Another customer service experience I've noticed in my family's life has been a more personalized shopping experience. In the last few months we've signed up for three different personal shopping subscriptions. I purchased a Birchbox subscription for my husband, my husband purchased a Surprise Ride monthly activity kit for my son and I signed up for Stitch Fix personal shopping for myself.
You're probably wondering what all of this has to do with the library.
The appeal of these services is personalization, delivery, packaging, fun and whimsy. How can I incorporate more of these qualities into library services?

I want library visits and programs to be more personalized. I love Nikki Robertson's personal book shopping program.  I'm already recruiting teachers that will let me give this a try with their class. If I can't find a willing teacher I may just leave out the surveys and tell the library visitors about it when they come in. I especially love the thought that went into the packaging with little tags that Cathy Jo Nelson created when she tried this idea.
We already have a frequently used holds process. My library helpers regularly check holds and deliver them to the students in class. I routinely put books on hold for students if I know they will love the book. They are usually pleasantly surprised when I deliver the book and tell them that I think they will like it. Maybe I can make the delivery even more special by including a book mark or a little note telling why I think they would like that book.
Another way to make the library more personalized is to have a way that students can request books then hold that book for them when it comes in. I usually keep this written on a sticky note on my desk, but I could find a more whimsical way to keep track of requests. I had a Google form on my website, but none of my students ever used it so I took it down. If we go 1:1 next year I have a feeling it would be utilized more often so I plan to put it back on the library site and have a QR code near the circulation desk so that they can go to the form easily and make a request. For those high demand books like the new Wimpy Kid I've seen librarians have a drawing or another fun way to chose the first person to check it out. I would like to try this.
I wish that I could add features to our catalog system. It would be so cool if a search came up with no results, the site would automatically link to the request form so that students could request the book right away.
If we go 1:1 I need to think of fun ways to deliver content to the students such as a recommended book lists based on different themes, holidays or events, links to book trailers, library program news, etc. I need to brainstorm ways that this would be possible with devices. From my conversations with 1:1 librarians it seems that I will need to work even harder at enticing students and classes into the library.

I would love to hear your ideas on how we can make the library more whimsical, fun, pleasurable, and personal.

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