As a leader, I use myself as an instrument of change. My approach to creating a positive experience for each library user is to imagine the ideal experience I would want to have. I square my ideal with my actual experience. Sometimes the reality is better than expected, but most times it falls short. The staff and I bring our observations and suggestions to each other and work to make to make your library experience better. Here’s our ideal:
The library is welcoming. One aspect is the physical facility. I want to be able to walk into a universally accessible, clean, and well-cared for space with eye-catching displays, surprising items to borrow, new books, movies, magazines, and music to take home, and invitations to participate in interesting and stimulating programs. Another aspect is policies that lead to “yes” in the response to my “may I?” The most important aspect is staff. I want to be acknowledged with a smile or hello. Even better, known and remembered. It feels wonderful to have someone make a suggestion based on their sense of my interests and tastes, at the same time, knowing my privacy will be respected and maintained.
The services of the library are available wherever and whenever I need them. Basically, the hours of the library are convenient for me. The website is easy to navigate so I can find the directions, telephone, hours, programs, catalog, and local information without effort. E-books and e-audiobooks are easy to download or stream. Requesting and renewing items is a quick process. I am empowered to find the information I seek through the library’s portal.
The library is free. No rental fees for materials or rooms, relaxed policies on the number of renewals and grace periods, and opportunities to have reduced late fees. I am more than willing to pay my fair share of taxes to support the library, be a member of the Friends, participate in fundraising events and donate to the annual appeal.
The library is comfortable and easy to use. I may want to meet friends to catch up; work or study in a quiet space; attend meetings in enclosed, pleasant space; read in comfortable chairs with natural light; and access clean, fresh-smelling, keyless restrooms. I intuitively understand where things are. I like to refer to maps and signs; to not have to ask. And when I ask for assistance, I do not feel judged. The behavior of the people in the library is predictable and appropriate so I feel safe.
The library is the best place to discover, learn and do. I want to try a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course; watch a craft demonstration; attend a community forum; practice speaking a language; and discuss big ideas. I can use the library’s modern office equipment and computer technology and applications, (There are clear, written instructions, if needed); to create, manipulate, print, scan, or copy. I want my children to love stories, discover the magic of pictures and text, and engage in stimulating programs. My family is enriched and entertained by performances, art shows, concerts, or talks.
The library is moving towards the ideal. The staff is more present at the public service desks and on the floors. The collection is being curated, culled, and updated with new formats and types of materials added. User-friendly policies are being written. The local history collection and archives will be organized and digitized for better access. Perimeter window workspaces and seating are being planned. Mobile shelving for more versatile, flexible space and functional displays is being dreamed about for the entire children’s collection and the new adult books, movies and music. The teen space will be relocated to the main, less quiet floor. An all community reading/family literacy program is being planned. You will be reading more about the specific goals, activities and changes in a series of articles by the staff in each of the library’s departments. Your suggestions, opinions, and feedback as we try to improve and modernize the facility, collections, services, programs, policies and philosophy, will be crucial to a successful outcome.