Library customers come in many forms and flavours. For example there are the delighted, devoted, disappointed, disaffected, dormant, unrealistic and angry, to name just a few. Each type presents a variety of pluses, challenges and unique skills to handle.
1. The delighted customer is our favorite kind of customer and I suggest; (with no scientific backing) that 60% – 70% of all public library customers fall into this category. They love the library because the staff regularly exceed their expectations, usually with a comment, a smile or a thank you.
2. Devoted library customers, (again with no scientific backing) represent 20% – 30% of our customers. They are the folks that have high library expectations and consistently staff provide them with a great experience. The key to satisfying the devoted customer is don’t neglect them. Staff needs to consistently offer them exceptional, personal service. Just think of the Apple or Tim Horton’s customer experience.
3. The detached customer is the “neutral” customer that is basically satisfied with their library service, but doesn’t love us. These are the customers library staff need to focus on rebuilding the relationship by offering them additional services, information or resources. They are the customers most likely to evolve into devoted or delighted customers so, this is time well spent.
4. The disappointed Staff may have provided great library service to these customers in the past, but now, for whatever reason, the customer feels let down. The solution is having a staff process to quickly and on the spot, deal with their disappointment. Is it offering to add them to the library e newsletter or signing them up for early overdue notices? Staff need some options to return the disappointed customer back to their devoted or delighted status.
5. The disaffected customer is the disappointed customer that the library did not successfully deal with previously. They are now aggravated and ready to tell the whole world about the short comings of the library. This can be the most destructive customer and so every effort needs to be made to turn them into the delighted customers. But, it will take even more work to get them back than the detached customer.
6.The dormant customer is one that was delighted or devoted but has drifted away for a variety of reasons. The key to getting these folks back is staff opening a dialogue with them to rebuild the relationship.
7. The unrealistic customer is one that has expectations that far exceed the library’s capabilities to supply i.e. the customer who wants staff to write their resume, or waive all their overdue fines. The best way to deal with the unrealistic customer is provide staff with phrases that outline the library’s policy and if all fails, a Supervisor to try and satisfy the customer.
8. The angry customer is agitated and focusing their anger on the library. Rarely have even the most skilled customer service folks been able to turn around the angry customer, because usually the customer is angry for reasons that are totally unrelated to the library. The angry customer is raising their voice but more importantly their hand is above their shoulder. This is your cue to immediately call a Supervisor and step back, this is a no win situation. Luckily they represent perhaps less than .0005% of all library customers.
Library customers come in a wide variety of flavours, but it’s this variety that makes library work so interesting, challenging but more importantly so satisfying.
Have a great week.
Kitty Pope #35 September 2014
So, for the sake of completion and the research being so much fun, below are some examples of humour from around the world.
I started by looking at the Rolling Stones 50-funniest-people-now which is a really interesting review of film humour in the United States.
John Cleese the English comedian and writer is considered by many to be a comic genius. He was co-founded of the iconic Monty Python, wrote and acted in Fawlty Towers plus wrote and produced A Fish Called Wanda
I am sure I have overlooked many great laughs, but there you have it, a self-guided tour of humour and what makes folks laugh.
I hope your autumn is full of fun and laughter.
Kitty Pope #34 September 2014
How did we get to this juncture?
In 1902 philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated $20,000 to the Royal City to build a public library at the intersection of Norfolk and Paisley. In classic Carnegie style, it had six columns, a dome, stained glass windows and a central staircase – a landmark in downtown Guelph.
With an ever growing population, by 1945 it became apparent that the Carnegie building was too small, and had serious structural issues. In 1964 the much loved old library was demolished and a new 19,000 sq. ft. building at 100 Norfolk Street opened costing $552,002. By 1975 the GPL board realized the library was again too small and a 10,000 sq. ft. addition was constructed at a cost of $284,182.
In 2011, after 45 years of heavy usage, the GPL board contracted for a building and functional plan to get a new main library “shovel ready.” In 2014, the library became part of the Baker Street Re-Development project.
Why does Guelph need a New Main Library?
Public libraries provide a diverse collection of resources that enrich, educate, and entertain, but why do we need a new library here in Guelph?
- The most frequent complaint about 100 Norfolk is the lack of community space to meet and study. When built, the main library was designed to house 80,000 volumes and no public computers or study space. Currently it houses over 243,000 volumes, 42 public access computers and very limited study space. For a community the size of Guelph the recommended standard size of a main library in the Great Lakes region is .60 square feet per capita. The Guelph Public Library is currently .47 square feet capita. The library is too small.
- The second most frequent complaint is the lack of parking for vehicles, bicycles and strollers. However, the library is “landlocked”, there are no options to expand parking on the street, underground or to purchase adjacent property. The library needs more parking.
- Over 29 million people have used the main library in the last 49 years; it is the most used recreational facility in the city. So it’s no surprise that the building is simply worn out and getting more and more expensive to maintain with deteriorating mechanical and electrical systems. The new library needs to be more cost effective, environmentally sustainable, plus respectful of the land and our environment.
- The awkward layout of the main library makes access by seniors, preschoolers, and the disabled very difficult. By necessity resources and services are located on all three floors, only accessible by a staircase or a very small elevator. The new library needs to be open and flexible to welcome all customers whether they are walking, wheeling or riding.
- Currently the city’s archives and local history records are shoehorned into a small storage room in the basement of the library. A well-appointed local history room would assure that our children and children’s children will know where they are going, because they will know where they came from, the Royal City!
- Public library buildings are catalysts for development and commercial activity. Canadian communities are using the public library as a way to create more vibrant and resilient public spaces that attract a steady stream of visitors. Communities such as Surrey, British Columbia where the public library is the cornerstone of the city centre, or the Hamilton central branch which is part of the Farmers Market are great examples of libraries being economic generators. In Guelph, main library foot traffic is expected to be 2,000 people per day within 2 years of opening which will significantly increase commercial activity in the cafes, retail shops and businesses at the north end of Wyndham Street.
- A downtown public library defines a city’s character. Think of the amazing stone lions (Patience and Fortitude) guarding the New York Public Library, the iconic Vancouver Public Library, the spectacular Hespeler Public Library wrapped in glass or the historic Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library connected to the Tom Thomson Art Gallery. These public libraries are civic landmarks that reflect the community’s character and commitment to learning, innovation, and well-being. A new main library would define and enhance Guelph.
- A new main library would improve the quality of life in Guelph. It would be Guelph’s “living room”, encouraging children and teens to read, seniors to continue learning, and for the rest of us, a fabulous place to use and enjoy.
The rise of new information and communications technologies has given Canadian public libraries a new life, packed with innovative services and community engagement. A new main library in Guelph will support this transition, build on our rich heritage, be the economic engine needed to revitalize the downtown core and open the door to Guelph’s future. For all these reasons and many, many more, Guelph needs a new main library.
Kitty Pope, CEO
firstname.lastname@example.org #5 September 2014
Public libraries benefit the entire community by providing lifelong learning opportunities to enrich, educate, and entertain, but they are also catalysts for economic development.
However, what is the actual economic value of a public library? This question is being asked across North America as public libraries quantify library services and assess their direct and indirect economic impact on the community. For example:
►The iconic Seattle Public Library opened in 2004 and generated $16 million in new spending in its first year of operation.
►The Free Library of Philadelphia economic impact study concluded that the library created more than $30 million in economic value in 2010.
►The Halifax Public Library economic impact study of 2009 estimated that the central library project would create 175 permanent jobs and provincial gross domestic product of $11,102,394 for a typical year of operation. Their spectacular new central library opens this fall.
- Early literacy, job seeking and small business programs that contribute to local economic development
- Ways in which library construction is being used to support economic development initiatives
The study concluded that public libraries are powerful tools for cities, building strong and resilient economies.
►In 2013 the Toronto Public Library commissioned the first Canadian study to measure the library’s economic impact on Toronto. So much more: the economic impact of the Toronto Public library on the City of Toronto concluded that:
- The total economic impact of the Toronto Public Library on the city was $1 billion annually
- For every dollar invested in the Toronto Public Library, Torontonians receive $5.63 in value
- The average value of services used by a Toronto Public Library customer is $502.15 annually
GPL as an economic generator
Over 29 million people have used the Guelph main library in the last 49 years; it is the most frequently used recreational facility in the city. However, is it a good return on the taxpayer’s investment?
For every dollar invested in the Guelph Public Library approximately $5.33 is returned to the community in economic benefits.
How is the ROI calculated?
The four variables to calculate library return on investment (ROI) include:
- Budgets spent locally: Proportionally, operating budgets of Toronto and Guelph spent locally are relatively similar at 85% and 86.5% respectively. However, Guelph is at a disadvantage in the spending of its capital budget for library specific technologies because they are generally not available in Guelph, but available in Toronto.
- Employees living in the city: 6.5% more Guelph Public Library staff live in the city of Guelph than do their Toronto counterparts. This is important in the ROI equation as it is reflective of employees’ salaries potentially spent in the community.
- Value of library services: In 2012 the annual circulation of library materials in Toronto was 11.48 items per capita while in Guelph it was 17.33 items. As a result the value of library services used by residents annually in Guelph is $673, which is 34% more than in Toronto.
How much money do you save as a library customer?
Customers are saving money every day by using the public library. This is particularly true of eBook readers who with a library card can download the most amazing collection of front list titles.
The Guelph Public Library also provides an online Library Value Calculator that estimates monthly personal savings as a result of using the public library. How much did you save last month because you are a public library user?
From Seattle to Halifax, the public library is an economic catalyst, supporting community development and returning to the community significant economic benefit. In Guelph, Ontario for every dollar invested in the Guelph Public Library approximately $5.33 is returned to the community in economic benefit.
The public library is a good investment.
Kitty Pope, CEO
email@example.com #4 September 2014