libraries

First Impressions

This is the first view of the conference sight for ACURIL (Association of Caribbean University Research & Institutional Libraries) where I am presenting “Innovation Starts with ‘I'” tomorrow. This is generally not the type of view one sees upon arriving at a conference location. It is truly beautiful here.

Here’s what I realized within the first hour of being in this incredible location: no matter how beautiful and extraordinary the location, no matter how many creature comforts are offered, no matter how many photo-moments keep cropping up–it is the human interaction that drives one to love a place, to feel “at home.” .  Good experiences can patch over an initial impression of not-so-good “customer service” (whatever you choose to call it), but still that first impression is strong! It leads me to consider the first impressions libraries and other organizations leave with our customers–especially first-time customers. Most of us don’t have a mythic ocean view to distract from any shortcomings. What do we do to be memorable and to make a customer feel happy to be in our location and want to come back?

First impressions: still very important.

Bake Sales, Bombs and Books

Remember this saying? I think there are still a few station wagons driving around that have it emblazened on their bumper stickers.  I remember this saying and starchy screenprint image again as a former colleague of mine (who is now a teacher) recently sent me a request for direct donor support for her classroom of first graders. She’s using the assistance of DonorsChoose to take matters into her own hands. Although the service was founded in 2000, it recently received a boost because of some mentions on TV (7 years later!). I checked in on my friend’s project listed on the site and decided to help out by funding the project. Hoorah for teachers who work to get the job done by doing all they can to help the kids they work with each day. I wonder how an online service like this could work for libraries. Perhaps there is one already ? Let the “great day” that the old bumper sticker talks about happen!

Brave Enough to Be Silent

Do you know this kid? Likely not. His story has not been told very widely (especially in light of “important news” such as the wedding plans of Jenna Bush–which actually aired during the NBC Nightly News last night). This is a picture of Lawrence King, a 15 year old student in California who was killed by another schoolmate for expressing himself on February 12, 2008.

Today is the National Day of Silence–a day to bring attention to the need to end bullying, mental torture and discrimination, especially GLBT kids who generally have little notable support.  This year’s Day of Silence is being held in honor of Lawrence King, a kid who dared to express himself in this world that is still growing and learning, and often does not see the importance and beauty in diversity.

I find it very interesting that The Day of Silence falls on the Friday before Dia de Los Ninos which celebrates kids, learning and diversity.

Did your library or community group observe The Day of Silence? Mine didn’t. For every child who has ever been taunted, hurt or disillusioned by bullying; for every adult who has the memory of discrimination; for every teen who is afraid to come out or simply express themselves–I envision a world ofacceptance and inclusion. I also know that, generally,  your Public Library is a safe and accepting place. Let this always be (more) so.

In the memory of Lawrence King, let’s start where we are to make this world a more embracing place.

Thoughts after a big, great library event

Tonight we had the finale event for the Paint the Town Read initiative that we’ve been running for 2 months now. We hosted 2 great come-celebrate-and-show-you-love-the-library events–one at the Main Library and one at ImaginOn. We had, collectively, over 1,000 people show up to celebrate libraries on this Friday of National Library Week! (May I mention that we were running our events parallel with the Keith Urban & Carrie Underwood sold-out concert at the arena in downtown Charlotte in the same city block?) It was a wonderful, library-loving night!

Here are some thoughts on how to make big library events that people love:

1. People love music, especially live music. Tonight we showcased the rocking & pure lovely music of Lunch Money. If you haven’t booked them for your library, get on it!

2. People love to be surprised. Many folks showed up prepared to see the theatre event only at ImaginOn, not knowing that there was food, drink and goodies waiting for them. Those that came just for the party found that there were welcoming staff, giveaways, music and lots to do!

3. People love to be treated special. Staff roamed among the many hundreds of visitors and welcomed them and thanked them for coming. It is the same as if you were having a party at your house–remember that…treat every guest special. And it will be a special event.

Here’s to Emily and all the staff that helped make the Red, Read Party a Real, Really Special Event!

On the edge of wonder

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Innovation is often more about taking what you have and adding a new ingredient than starting from scratch to create something new. What is a good ingredient to add to a standard program or service? Try “wonder.” What can we do to add an element of pure wonder into what we do each day–both for our users and our staff? My colleague Emily recently ventured into an arena of the common-gone-wonderful when she created and offered an unapologetic Noisy Storytime. Yes, a program that was consciously crafted to allow kids who want (and need) to make noise have their kind of experience. Working off an idea found in SLJ, she put it into action. We have the opportunity each day to inject our programs, services and tools with the element of wonder (you may call it delight, energy, newness) into what we do. It’s not always the easiest thing to do when we’re balancing the many plates of our day-to-day–yet possible.  Take a look at Emily’s post on the Library in Action blog for inspiration. Need some other ways to stir the wonder into what you do? Try these to start:

1. Bring something strikingly beautiful into your space (office, workroom, lobby) and let it speak for itself.

2.  Ask yourself: what would my program look like if I allowed “the audience” to run the show? Let at least some of it happen.

3. Allow a kid to teach you something. Even something you know how to do already.

What give you a feeling of “Wonder?” Move with that.