Oops. I missed a couple of days. Easy to do when nothing seems to be really happening and yet my office gets messier and messier and I seem to achieve less and less! So a summary of the past couple of days.
What I learned
People get snaky if they receive letters saying “such and such will be available in your library from today”…and then it’s not. Sigh. Thankfully “such and such” turned up with the courier yesterday and is now on display. Phew! Wipes brow.
Also a colleague sent through a link to a great article here. This article has so many interesting ideas. I found the following quotes most enlightening:
70-75 percent of the customers did not visit the library with a specific title in mind. They came browsing.
patrons are empowered to help one another in exchange for free, permanent, coworking space, and they utilize the S2M Serendipity Machine to connect library users in real-time.
The most obvious change is that people, both members and non-members, are staying longer to meet each other, to search for books or other media, to have a cup of coffee, to consult, to study, to work, to attend activities etc.
I would agree that most people come to the library to browse. In an attempt to engage with customers when they come to the counter to borrow books, I usually ask if they found what they were looking for and most reply that they didn’t come with a specific title in mind, just to browse. Having said that the article mentions that:
Customers had to search their books throughout the library.
So it’s a kind of a tension between “I’m not really looking for a specific title” and “I can’t find anything.” This hammers home to me that we need more frontal display.
The other thing that I was particularly interested in was the idea of the serendipity machine and the exchange of skills and knowledge for free permanent co-working space. This might be a useful tool for determining how groups use the space to ensure the library is for everyone.
Lastly the importance of customers being involved in the design of the library. We recently had a change of lounge chairs in the library and one of the comments I received back was “Why didn’t you ask us before you changed them?” Good point.
What I improved
I’ve been working on a Guide to Family History Resources at our library for members of the Family History group that meet there once a month.
There’s a bit of me that wonders if I have gone about it the right way. At first I wanted to highlight some resources that we have in the library but that are not on display. This is mostly because they are valuable resources and we want to make sure that they don’t go walking. But keeping them hidden means they’re not being used and really defeats the purpose of having them. They are discoverable on the catalogue of course but not everyone uses a catalogue with confidence.
Secondly, the way I am organising information may not be suitable. I’m organising it in terms of place at the moment. Often researchers assume that because we are a library located in Brisbane, Queensland, we will only have resources related to this particular area. I want to show that we’ve got resources that cover all states of Australia and some UK resources as well.
I notice that SLQ organises their Family history guides by subject first and then area of interest e.g. Births. Deaths and Marriages, Directories/Almanacs/Gazateers, Census Records.
I think it will have to be a work in progress. At least I have cross-checked catalogue records with physical items (and noticed a few errors/improvements that might be made in terms of describing the collection).
Ultimately I would really like to improve the way the collection is housed physically and would like to group all relevant items together. At the moment some items are in Non-Fiction, some in the YA Room where our Genealogy computers and Microfiche Reader are locarted and some behind the Circulation Desk.
What I enjoyed
The music in Master and Commander. That might sound facetious but it isn’t meant that way. We had a screening of Master and Commander on Monday afternoon. A small but enthusiastic audience were treated to a bag of popcorn and a cup of tea while they watched the movie. I forgot how beautiful the music is in this movie. I just remembered the powerfully dramatic scenes but the music really helped crack any stiff upper lips too I think.
Would we have got higher attendance if we had done a display I wonder? Maybe I should test that for next time. Our next movie later this month is Diana and Me starring Toni Collette and directed by David Parker. This movie was released unfortunately at about the same time the Princess of Wales died. Talk about bad timing. What would you put on a display about Diana & Me? I’m thinking a display about Celebrity. All ideas welcome.