The best thing about going away to a library conference is that we come back so inspired! While we choose the sessions we’d like to attend–many of which apply to the job we do in our own library–we’re also free to go to sessions that are just plain interesting. Often, it’s a tough choice, as there are so many sessions going on at one time, but we manage. (Some people even slip out of a session midway through in order to pop into another one so as not to miss out completely.) Most of the sessions are available online after the conference (handouts, at the very least), but nothing compares to attending the sessions live. It’s the people who make the topics vibrant and interesting.
I attended a variety of workshops. Since my job here in Carleton Place is a combination of technical work and children’s programs, I went to a nice mix of both. I sat in on a session called “The Creative Library”, which had all of us playing silly drawing, word and problem solving games. The idea is to create a library environment where the staff have great morale and problem solving abilities, as well as being able to foster creative thinking in all areas of librarianship. What does that boil down to? Well, the examples had library staff playing Wii games every morning together to help bolster team building skills (I can’t imagine having time to do that here, but it was an interesting idea), and staff rooms set up with puzzles and modeling clay in order to allow staff to de-stress when needed. When tracking productivity and the impact happy staff had on patrons, the results were amazing. While we might not adopt these specific ideas, the creative library approach is something every library could benefit from in some manner.
I also listened to a fascinating talk called “Confessions of a Social Media Librarian.” At first, I couldn’t imagine that there could be a position devoted entirely to tweeting and posting on Facebook, but in a large university environment, it made perfect sense. While we often center our social media approach around events that take place in the library, she took a very different approach. Instead of tweeting that the library was going to have different hours, let’s say…she focused on tweeting to actual library/university members about things they were already talking about. Engaging the students in dialog about what they were doing at the library and what they needed to know about (for instance, free tables for study space), she got them talking about the library as a positive experience. I’m not sure how we’ll apply that approach here, but I’d love to have more dialogue with people who USE the library, rather than just tweeting between town facilities.
One of the most fascinating presentations occurred on the final day of the conference. It was titled “Why Libraries Should Emulate Apple Stores”. The presentation focused on the idea that Apple stores are all about providing superior service and products to its customers. If libraries could emulate the practice of making each patron feel like the center of the universe, then they’d keep coming back and rave about the services the library provides. Not everyone agreed with the presenter’s claim that Apple wasn’t just out to make money (she was a certified Apple trainer, so apparently, she knew all about the ins and outs of the company), but whether or not they thought the reason behind superior service was wrong, no one could argue with the fact that listening to your customers/patrons is THE way to keep them coming back.
Now I just have to sit down and figure out how to implement some of these great ideas into my programs and service at the Carleton Place Public Library.