Viewing our libraries through our clients’ eyes

Posted on January 17th, 2008 in Libraries by Kirsty

The Transparent Library: Coping with Anonymity

By Michael Casey & Michael Stephens — Library Journal, 1/15/2008

Your best response to this new world is to audit signage, library policy, and staff communication. Walking through the library with a customer’s eyes might lead you to change inappropriate signage. A user-centered look at the public policy manual may yield less rulebound guidelines. Finally, establishing a way for staffers and patrons to comment freely fosters openness.

For a while I’ve been thinking about the differences in practices in our libraries across the state – some relate to local needs and differences, others reflect a difference in the path travelled so far. I wonder what would happen if someone were to wander around the different library settings with a camera and document the spaces and signage?

This might be an activity to be undertaken at a statewide meeting – staff could be invited to ‘document’ their space and compare. It would certainly open up the discussion about where printers are located, or whether mobile phones or food are allowed.


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The Book Stall

Posted on January 4th, 2008 in Libraries by Kirsty Tags:

At the end of 2007, the teams under my wing came together for a professional development day and a half. As this involved closing the libraries to allow as many staff as possible the opportunity to be there, it was quite a major event.

One thing a previous manager of mine did, as well as the facilitators of a leadership development program I went through, was occasionally give a book to people – sometimes this was specially chosen for the person, other times the same book would go to each person in the group. This encouraged a wide reading scope and placed value on informal learning and reflection. Not knowing each member of my groups well enough to choose them a meaningful text, I translated this practice into a book stall.

At the lunchtime of the second day, I planned a stall at which each person could exchange their voucher for a book. Things did not quite go to plan with Amazon’s shipping and delivery timeframes (eg I’m still waiting for some to arrive) so we printed out the front cover of each book and placed those on the stall instead. There were some surprising choices made, and some people chose books for their colleagues who weren’t there on the day.

The majority of books have now arrived, and are being sorted for distribution around the state next week. It reminds me of those book club orders in primary school – that was better than Easter chocolates for me. Imagine choosing your books according to your carefully saved pocket money and then they arrive – eagerly awaited as the delivery date got closer. Even though we went to the library most weeks as I was growing up, I’ve never got over the feeling you have a book when you know it will live on your shelf for evermore and you can re-read it whenever you like.

The only downside is that I don’t have time to read them all before they go to their new homes with our staff. I’ll have to encourage a circulation of the books!!!

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