I’m gearing up to head to Honolulu, Hawaii to present at the Hawaii Library Conference 2009. One of my sessions will be all about library experiences, particularly the slant that Boulder Public Library is taking on this broad and increasingly interesting arena through our Pulse Point initiative.
Those that are attending the session on Pulse Points will get a lot of context for this image. What we know is that libraries and places of learning come alive when the people they are intended to to serve are engaged, intrigued or delighted in the process. By creating Pulse Points in your library or facility there is the opportunity to capture the imaginations and genius of both your customers and your staff.
With the Pulse Point initiative, we are really undertaking a way of creating more interesting experiences while at the same time learning much about our capacity to explore curiosity, creativity and new ideas. Flexibility and discovery…all wrapped up in a great branded effort!
I’m a real believer in having easy, ongoing ways for our customers to give us feedback (ie, thank-yous). Ahhh, “feedback”what a word…so often a word that means something like “how you did me wrong” or “your people were’n’t nice to me…” Once you open yourself up for feedback you have to be ready and willing to receive it. Now, I wonder how we get to the good stuff…the good stuff so that we can expand on that. In Dan Heath & Chip Heath’s article I Love You. Now What? we’re asked about what do we do to allow our customers to tell us the good stuff. They make me wonder why we keep ourselves guarded from hearing what we are doing well. Do you ever feel like we are in flinch-mode when it comes to “customer surveys” or “feedback forms?” I often say “where is the confidence in public libraries?” We are doing really good stuff. Much good stuff. Can we improve? Of course. Do we hear about what we need to improve on? Oh, yes. Do we hear about what we are doing to make lives richer and better? I’d venture to say, not asmuch. How are we making ways to channel the good feelings, the love our customers have for what we’re doing? I don’t have the clear answer to this (and I know we walk a fine line for fishing for compliments in this), but I do know that talking about what is going well is important, necessary and ultimately builds more good. Let’s open ourselves up to hearing the good stuff.
Some thoughts that have occurred to me in the past few weeks as far as when to hang out the sign (or “when to say No Way!)…
–No Vacancy–when it comes to making declarations, decisions or policies simply because it’s what they want to hear
–No Vacancy–for taking the Easy-in-the-Short-Run and Deal-with-it-Later leadership
–No Vacancy–for putting off questions, discussions and decisions that are crying for attention.
Here’s the deal with hanging out No Vacancy signs–everyone, well most everyone, knows that the No Vacancy sign really means “don’t bother me,” “don’t rock the boat,” or “I don’t want to deal with this now (ever).”
So, let’s flip it around. Let’s take down the No Vanancy Signs…and try “Welcome” or “Newly Envisioned” or “Ask Me” signs instead.
Only a few minutes ago I returned from the Nellie McKay performance at the b.line in Boulder. I walked home with a feeling of inspiration, wonder, creativity and call-to-action. The performance was somewhat raw and honest, insightful and alarming with a strong dose of absolute humor and charm. As utterly abnormal as it may seem to those outside the Library world, on the walk home I couldn’t help but think how this wisp of a performer embodies the very essence of Libraries. Youthful yet wise, simple and still layered with complexities that drew the audience’s attention and at points so straight-forward there was no room for misinterpretation (image: the songstress walked off the stage and passed out a clipboard so that audience members could be sure to get the web site address for a cause she supports : Non-violence United . Moving seemlessly between full-out performing to nimbly going into songs that the audience members called out (“Clony!”), she also showed she’d done her homework about Boulder–she created a song on-the-spot about a local restaurant and encouraged people to be aware of a local rezoning issue! Note to Self: Nellie McKay is a likely candidate for a featured song on Library Tribute Album.
It’s been a very active couple of days here in Boulder. Searching for a place to live has been a very good experience to learn more about the city. As always, it’s those moments between the tasks that often reveal the most insight, beauty and magic. I’ve snapped as many pictures as possible between finding addresses, meeting with the terrific Boulder Public Library staff and generally being awed and sizzed about coming to Colorado. I snapped the picture above yesterday afternoon. I jokingly said “this is my new backyard.” Then I realized that this statement is pretty much true. This is in Chautauqua Park looking up at the Flatiron Mountains–a reasonable walk right from Boulder’s Main Library!
On Sunday the Public Library’s Tricycle Music Fest officially rolled into the city. The big hoopla? They Might Be Giants hit it hard with 2 shows, 2 packed houses and over 1100 smiling, singing, dancing taking-it-to-eleven rockers of all ages.
What does this have to do with the business of Public Libraries? Everything. Knowing that the library is a mirror and a voice for the community we serve, we also reflect the tastes, aesthetics and desires of our community. What does that more than a rock concert?! These shows were big venue shows at our ImaginOn facility, but we also do smaller–yet real–concerts at many of our other branches. The night before we hosted a concert with the hip, smart and sweet band Lunch Money at Plaza-Midwood Branch. How many families can you fit in a small branch with the guitars blaring? In this case–about a hundred!
You can do this, too, at your library. Contact me and I’ll give you the details. You know I have to say this: Rock on!
It’s my second day in beautiful Jamaica! Had a wonderful presentation experience this morning with a ballroom full of dedicated and ready-to-innovate library professionals. After my presentation, I had many good talks with members of the conference. What I realize again and again is that ultimately what everyone is wanting (and needing) is to have a memorable experience–whether user, staff, administrator or simply on-looker. How to create an experience? Start by telling a story. A strong and meaningful story. Your story. The story of your community or the group you want to reach. Tell your story in the way that will reach your intended audience. Pictures and images (shall I say “realia”) can help in the telling immensely!
By the way: these giant chess pieces (in the picture above) are on the grounds of the Rose Hall Resort where the conference is taking place. Simply seeing them sitting there under and tent as the thunder rang in the sky and the ocean lapped near me made me feel as if I were in a type of nouveau fairytale. Ah, story a story begins to develop…