There is a bit of discussion going on round here about how moving to a learning commons model changes the model of service from librarians as The Sage to librarians as A Knowledge Guide. Or something like that. One of the comments made during this discussion was “We should not employ people who don’t like customer service.” Which seemed a fair comment at the time.
So it interested me to see this post from the Swiss Army Librarian reporting on a presentation entitled MLA2010: Black Belt Librarians: Dealing with Difficult Patrons. Some good advice in here don’t get me wrong. I do note however, that the presenter states a library must have rules. This is one of the Must Have rules.
A word on “Welcoming Rules” – which sign works better:
- No cell phones allowed (with cell phone inside of a red-slash-circle)
- Welcome to the library, for everyone’s comfort, please do not use your cell phone in the library
The first one works better – people just need to know the information. It is clear and concise.
Ok got that. So customer service story here is that no cell phones in the library means good service?
So then I head over to Michael Stephens Tame the Web blog where he has on many occasions talked about library signage. For eg. Ten Signs I Hope I Never See In Libraries Again which includes signage like this one by Aaron Schmidt
So customer service story here says cell phones are good and should be allowed.
Then I look outside at our students and see this:
In fact, all the tables I look at have students, laptops, textbooks, notes and yes – a cellphone. Or, (to poach Mr Collin’s words from Pride and Prejudice), I should say cell phones as there are several. The reality for us is that almost all students here seem to be an extension of their phones.
What is the best customer service story to tell? I suspect the answer lies somewhere in the middle road. But you can understand why I’m feeling a little polarised today.