On a + note

Becoming a Destination. #5: 2011

Posted in on a + note by Admin on March 14, 2011

If yours is a “snatch and go” kind of library, where customers run in, check the new books shelf, and run out, it’s tough to build customer loyalty. We know that the longer a customer stays in the library, the more likely they are to support us.

If yours is a “destination library,” like the mighty New York Public Library Main Branch where folks (and the Labradoodle in the photo below) go to spend time, you have a definite advantage. A destination library equals loyalty. Loyalty translates into customer support. Customer support means a better budget. A better budget begets more resources. More resources allow for a better customer experience. It’s a simple chain reaction.

During this past week, I have been asking myself how I would grow a library from a pit stop to a destination. Here are my thoughts so far:
• The library’s hours of operation should be scheduled for the convenience of the customers, not the convenience of the staff.
• Clean and inviting spaces encourage return visits.
• Changing displays and interactive activities promote the library habit.
• Communal and quiet seating areas allow for different experiences.
• Appropriate and plentiful lighting, with maximum seating near windows, is crucial.
• Green plants humanize the environment.
• Signage and rules should be as limited as possible. (I know this is tough for us.)
• Membership has its privileges, so pay attention to your customers. Welcome them into the library; serve them coffee on occasion. Repeatedly thank patrons for using the library, for asking questions, or for attending a program. People return to where they are wanted and welcomed!
How do you make your library a destination? I’m not “lion” when I say that it’s all about excellent customer service. (Sorry, I just had to make at least one lion reference!)
Have a roaring good week!
Kitty Pope
kpope@library.guelph.on.ca #5 March 2011


4 Responses to 'Becoming a Destination. #5: 2011'

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  1. debbie said,

    What a great pleasure it was to see the library today! I confess I have not been in the library for a while, but the changes jumped right out at me!!! How inviting our library is becoming! I absolutely love the new look! Great job Kitty!

  2. Olga Petrik said,

    I see the library as both a destination and a pit stop. I often search books online and reserve them, and rush in for a quick pickup! It really is the best of both worlds.
    I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to the Richmomd BC library, they have a wonderful centre that has a sports field/rink as well as a small gallery and coffee shop.
    I think one way of encouraging people to stay on site and enjoy the premises is to offer a small coffee shop. Take a page from the big book stores! 🙂 I know that in the current location that would likely be difficult and there are several city by-laws to think about. However, who knows what could be created in a new location!

  3. Jennifer said,

    I love the changes that are happening at the downtown library. After reading in the paper about the changes we returned to the downtown branch for the first time in months.

    Our family visits the library (usually the west end) 2-3 times a week. As homeschoolers the library is one of our greatest resources.

    One of the greatest problems for my family is accessiblity at the downtown branch. It is difficult to get to the elevators. Things (shelves, trolleys) are left in the hallway. The elevator is a scary adventure all its own. It is slow, makes stranges noises and sometimes bounces along.

    We are also delighted to see the return of the teen programs!

  4. I have always loved the idea of library as a “third place”. The first place being home and the second place being work. A place that is focused on the community and social interaction. Coffee in the library would definitely encourage social interaction… as this is what coffee shops have! It is a move away from traditional, stereotypical libraries where visitors expect to be “shushed”. A great example of this is at the University of Guelph library and the Learning Commons. There is a Williams coffee pub kiosk and seating near windows. It has the appeal of a comfortable atmosphere where chatting is appropriate. This is definitely a “Chapters appeal”! This may help the library become a destination for the community. I am so glad to hear that the Guelph libraries are moving in that direction.

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