Monday, December 11, 2006

Library vs Wal-mart ?

After reading Lisa's thoughts about libraries vs. Bookstores, I thought I would chime in...
A couple of years ago the library where I used to work changed all of our internal and external publicity, replacing the word "patrons" with "customers". That felt odd. What did this change imply? And now that we've had a couple of years to get used to that, there has now been talk of another change. The Library Director wants to restructure several libraries, uniting the circulation and adult reference desks into one single desk/area that will now be called "Customer Service Points". YIKES!

The plan also includes senior volunteers as greeters in some of the larger libraries, to help people find their way around.

If I had the guts, I'd call my library director and ask her her thought process behind these changes. Why? It certainly seems like a fast-food mentality and maybe younger patrons...I mean customers, will love this. Just get in, get what you need and get out. But what about our non-traditional customers, seniors or others who don't want to rush around? Will they like these Customer Service points? Why would the library director do this? Maybe it has something to do with our consumer economy. Lisa said that libraries are not commercial zones, but maybe we're heading that way. Is there a way to offer convenience and still provide a place to sit and think and read or whatever? What do people really want? Are things so different in the suburbs?

Let's just hope that the librarians don't have to start wearing blue smocks and a smiley face pin!


At 7:40 AM, Blogger Frances said...

I don't particularly like the "consumer" terminology, but I do think the idea of volunteer senior greeters is intriguing. I think it would have to be done thoughtfully, but it could help show (and create) community support and make a more welcoming atmosphere.

At 8:42 AM, Blogger ekbromley said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:46 AM, Blogger ekbromley said...

Oops. I was a little quick on the trigger on that last posting. I also wanted to say, related to the senior greeters, that Olbrich Gardens has volunteers in a similar role. They are tremendously popular with visitors, from what I can tell. They greet some people by name, direct people if they are lost, and they make sure the first thing a visitor sees at Olbrich is a friendly face. I think having greeters in the library is a nice idea.


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