Idea Share, Libraries, Library Director

An Easy Way For Libraries To Better Understand How Their Library Is Being Used

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Our janitor was out sick today and over the past few days we’ve had almost a foot of snow in our area. With snow comes wet boots and shoes and salt being tracked in through the doors. All of this mixed together results in our library being a little messier than usual these days. It’s all good…everyone deserves sick days to rest and heal and even though the snow can get yucky it is a pretty beautiful sight to see at least a foot of snow all around this time of year.

All of this led to me coming in to work a bit early today so that I could vacuum the library and tidy things up a little bit so everything didn’t add up. As I vacuumed mind mind began to wander. I thought about what Corinne Hill once told me back in the Chattanooga days…”make the maintenance team happy and everything will go smoothly”. I thought about how employees who work in maintenance and janitorial services really do make the library continue to operate and thrive and how we don’t usually think about the great work they do. I also veered off into the world of what janitors may see in libraries. I started to think about the details and what kind of information and ideas can be gleamed from those details. And then this idea hit me as my vacuum hummed and the salt it was picking up made small plinking noises as it made its way up the nozzle and into the dirt chamber…could we better understand how our community is using the library by the snow and salt their shoes are bringing into the library in winter? Why yes, Justin, I think we can!

Here’s what I noticed at the Benson Memorial Library:

  • The most affected areas by the snow and salt were the front entrance. This is of course something that can easily be understood.
  • From the front door, most of the snow and salt seemed to make a straight line past the circulation desk, past our DVD collection, and into our Children’s area.
  • To the left of the front door there was a bit more snow and salt than any other area. This is due to our newspapers and reading tables being in that area. These are heavily used by folks reading the newspaper or using their laptop in the library.
  • In our Reading Room, the most heavily used area was in front of our new books and NYT Bestsellers display. The couches and chairs in that room had some snow and salt, but not as much as in our newspapers area.
  • The back of our building, which is home to our nonfiction and fiction stacks, did not have much, if any, salt and snow. What can I learn from this? Maybe people are not browsing as much?
  • To the left of our circulation desk is the walkway to our restrooms. Of course, there was a lot of snow and salt in this area but we also do have a side exit so it could have been as a result of people using that as their exit.

What I’m trying to say with all of this is that there are many different ways for us to learn about our libraries. This is just one way, and in my opinion, one of the better ways to learn. I think there’s a lot for us to process and understand if we just look around. Look up, look down. Sit somewhere different during the day. Try something out that you don’t usually do during your day at work. What you may see or hear can be pretty amazing and overall it could change how you work as a librarian. All in all, these changes are for the best! We need to keep on growing.

 

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Libraries

Signs

I believe that all signs that hang in a public library should be clear, easy to understand, colorful, and fun. They should brighten up the library and also make it easier for our community members to find what they’re looking for.

When I got to the Benson Memorial Library about a year ago, I did a quick inventory of the signs that we had hanging out. They were all over the place: different colored paper, different fonts, and no real cohesion that made easy for patrons to follow. There were also way too many signs. Too many signs can confuse things. Six months later, I made an attempt to update our signs but I failed…the signs were too small, too generic, and just not that easy to follow.

Recently I worked with one of our employees named Jess and she came up with the signs you see above. Her penmanship and handwriting is amazing, so I thought it would translate really well into signs that helped the community find what they are looking for. I’m really happy with the work that Jess did…these signs are so bright and helpful.

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I also want to commend another employee named Sharon on her great displays and bulletin boards. Over the past year, Sharon has really stepped up her game with all of the bulletin boards in our library.What you see above was the latest that she created. This new book display lives in our Youth area and it just makes the whole area much happier.

 

Life, Online Identity, Social Media

Let’s Be Patient With Each Other This Year

February is a pretty wretched month any year and 2016 is even more wretched than others. February is the time of colds, flus, and other ailments. February can’t figure out whether to have 28 or 29 days. February is the month that we all hope that winter ends and spring finally begins.

This year, February hit us with all of those things and a few more. Here in Northwestern PA we’ve been struck with El Nino Climate Change Weather Deluxe 2.0, where one day we get 6-8 inches of snow and the next day we’ve got temperatures in the 50’s and everyone is out in their shorts. This is not only confusing but it also leads to everyone eventually getting sick. We’ve also got the 2016 USA Presidential Primary and Election coming up. That seals the deal. The pundits and the political commentators come out of the woodwork and every day we’re treated to another amazing set of headlines bashing this and criticizing that and then the social media comments start to flow in and wow everything is just a hot mess. I’ve never been a fan of these election cycles and this year is everything to the extreme. I don’t like extremes. I like balance.

This is a good time to think about how we treat each other. We are all unique and interesting creatures. We all have ideas, beliefs, and thoughts. Some of those thoughts are good for the universe and some of those thoughts are bad for the universe. I understand that it is very easy to get upset when someone puts something down that you believe in so very much. It hurts me too. When I was in middle school, someone made fun of Asians in front of me. My brother is Korean. That really upset me. I punched him! It is not very nice to put down a group of people just because of how they are born, how they look, or something that they believe in. But at the same time, I understand now that it was also not very nice to punch someone! I know that somewhere in this there has to be balance. I don’t know exactly what that is and what that looks like, but I am constantly reminding myself to find that balance even in the hardest times.

Let’s be patient with each other this year. All of us are gonna get through everything that we’re going through. There are peaks and valleys. There are ups and downs. Be patient with the people you interact with in your community. Be patient with the people you interact with on the internet. We are all different, yet I believe that at the core we are all the same. We are all human beings. Think about that.