Thursday, October 18, 2012

Notes, Quotes & What-all: "Library Hospitality: Some Preliminary Considerations" (with Links and Sidebars)

By Eric D. M. Johnson and Michelle M. Kazmer.
The Library Quarterly, vol. 81, no. 4 (2011), pp. 383-403.

Above article was added to the required reading list for UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies LIS 712 The Public Library, Session 1.

Hospitality's contexts
  • Private
  • Public
  • Institution
4 distinct characteristics of modern hospitality
  • Provided by a host to a guest who is away from home
  • Interactive (provider <--> receiver)
  • Blend of tangible and intangible factors
  • Host provides for guests security as well as psychological and physiological (physical) comfort

Sidebar 1:  Slides from "The Nature of Reference Work:  The Reference Interview"

Henderson, Maude R.   "The librarian as a host". 

3 elements in the exchange process of hospitality
  • Products:  Library materirals and services
  • People:  Employee behavior
  • Place:  Physical environment

Definition of library hospitality:  The provision of library resources by a genuinely motivated employee to fulfill the library need of a patron in an environment conducive to the provision of those resources.

Library resources
  • physical materials, databases, websites
  • physical facilities:  computer labs, meeting rooms, lounges, etc.
Environment, including
  • Physical space
  • Layout of components (ease of accessibility)
  • Lighting
  • Signage
  • Virtual presence

Libraries Today:  Employee Behavior and Motivation (pp. 303-304)
Sidebar A:  Standards of Customer Service, Davenport (IA) Public Library
  • Upholding confidentiality and intellectual freedom
  • Knowing, understanding, correctly implement library polices
  • Being at your workstation when scheduled
  • Creating a cooperative work environment
  • Exhibiting respect for all customers and co-workers
  • Helping to create a welcoming atmosphere
  • Ensuring a high-quality customer experience
  • Meeting the needs of customers and co-workers
  • Verify that needs have been met
  • Avoiding personal value judgments when interacting with customers and co-workers
  • Providing service to the public above personal activities and interests
  • Taking responsibility for being knowledgeable, courteous, and responsive in all communications
  • Basic requirements
    • Friendly, prompt, and helpful service
    • Respectful of and sensitive to 
      • Circumstances
      • Differences
      • Diversity
  • Nametags
  • Telephone calls
    • Greeting
    • Name
    • Department or title
  • Appearance
  • Doing work at service desk (interruptible)
  • Food and beverages
  • Personal phone calls and emails
  • Circulating (roving)
  • Library equipment
  • Lines at service desks
  • Phone and in-person transactions (those in library get first priority)
  • Materials not owned by library
  • Referral to other service point(s)
  • Staff communications
  • Dealing with unacceptable service 
    • Provided by other staff members
    • "I had a question like that recently...."
  • Performance evaluations
  • Recognition of service

Sidebar C:  Positive Operating Procedures from Customer Service Policy, Falmouth (MA) Public Library (selected items)
  • Punctuality
  • [Approachability] Offer a smile and greeting to customers
  • [Attentiveness] Look up and around 
  • [Tone of voice/body language] Do not exhibit annoyance or impatience
  • Keep you voice low (volume)
  • Avoid jargon
  • Keep conversations with other staff members to a minimum
  • Listen courteously and attentively to comments and suggestions
  • Staff members don't use prime parking spaces

Libraries Today:  Library Employees (p. 304) 

Core Staff Technology Competencies, Denver Public Library

  • Level 1 - all staff
  • Level 2 - public services staff
  • Level 3 - information professionals
  • Level 4 - specialized

Responses to wispublib query re: libraries that have used greeters.

Wendy Rawson, Director, Fitchburg Public Library.  We don't have formal greeters at Fitchburg, but we do expect the staff at the Circulation Desk to say hello and goodbye to patrons if they are not otherwise engaged. We've gotten some very nice compliments about being greeted from patrons!

 What I really wanted to share with you was a trial we did at my last library in Worthington, Ohio. We set up a podium in the lobby of our main library as a greeter desk to see if it was something we should add in an upcoming renovation. Every staff member spent one hour per week at the desk (including the Director, Finance, HR, Tech services, etc). What we found was that a huge percentage of patrons wanted to avoid the greeter. They refused to make eye contact and practically RAN past us. The people who did want to say hello also wanted to stand and chat for 45 minutes about their latest health problems or whatever conspiracy theory they bought in to. While the experience was wonderful in showing typical back room staff the types of things the public staff dealt with, we didn't feel that it was a benefit to patrons in the end. We stopped doing it after several weeks.

What did work was having someone 'roving' near the self check machines, who functioned as a greeter as well as assisting patrons and shelving holds. That was a great position, but was only possible because we had a ton of staff at that library. I don't think we could ever pull it off at FCH with the current level of staffing!

Kent Barnard, Director, Patteron Memorial Library, Wild Rose. We are all greeters. Our circ desk is right by the door. Everyone is trained to greet everyone who walks in. We use first names if we know them (ok , if I, being the newcomer in town, know them!) We also thank them for coming in, leaving donations for printing or overdue books (no fines here!), and urge them to return. 

Of course not everyone is as good as others at this especially if they are chatting with a friend (we are a village of 725 people), but we catch them at some time. Working on getting everyone out from behind the desk at least every now and then to roam and ask if anyone needs help. 

Could be my restaurant and retail background – but this just makes good business sense and it’s the neighborly thing to do! I have long thought that libraries need to stop pretending they are not a business! Our patrons deserve the third place experience.

Jessica MacPhail, Director, Racine Public Library.   When Racine Public Library was being renovated and the entire upstairs was closed for several months, we had volunteer (and some staff) greeters who staffed a kiosk by the front door. They directed people to resources that had been relocated to the first floor - Internet terminals, new books, DVDs, audiobooks, and reference staff. Patrons and staff all loved it. Wish we had the resources to be able to continue that service. 

Libraries Today: Patrons (p.305)

Library Anxiety:  A Decade of Empirical Research  (academic libraries)

Self-service in libraries

State of Self-Service 2010: Do-It-Yourself Libraries. (Library Journal, 6/10/2010)
Excerpt: Self-service options abound, including self-check machines, drive-through windows, vending machines with books and DVDs, as well as a host of Internet-driven tools that enable library users to register for library cards, or schedule themselves for classes and computer time. Fully 85 percent of libraries offer some sort of self-service, and that percentage goes up with the size of the population served.

Helping Users Help Themselves with Self-Service Technologies | Product Watch.  (Library Journal, 9/10/2012)
Excerpt: With many libraries facing the squeeze of rising usage and flat or declining funding, self-service technologies have become more of a necessity. Librarians who discussed these technologies with LJ said that self-service options generally improve service overall. With these tools in place, staff have more time to answer questions and assist patrons.

Libraries Today: Environment (p. 306-7)

Library cafes

Relaxation of food and drink policies

It's more than books and bathtubs, Noreen.  (highlights added)

Virtual branch

Managing the Digital Branch from David King

Thinking of libraries as places of hospitality
  • "Framing device" for overall service program
  • Focusing the decision-making process

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