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    7.let them 7.let them Document Transcript

    • The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/0888-045X.htm THE ESSENTIAL LIBRARIAN Let them see change Let them see change James R. Lund Red Wing Public Library, Red Wing, Minnesota, USA 185Abstract Received 22 June 2011Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to encourage annual dramatic visual change.Design/methodology/approach – The author incorporates principles of retail merchandising andhis experience in retail grocery to make the argument for annual dramatic visual change.Findings – A recent reset of the children’s collection led to increased circulation, improved staffcontact with patrons, and a project narrative to share with elected officials.Originality/value – The paper offers anecdotal evidence from a unique experience as a groceryretail clerk that annual dramatic visual change boosts the library’s status in the community.Keywords Merchandising, Funding, Libraries, Change managementPaper type ViewpointIntroduction“It seems like every few weeks you move my favorite items around the store”, said acustomer after another reset at the grocery store. The customer was frustrated, but not tothe point of leaving. Knowing the location of shifted items, I guided the customerthroughout the store offering my assistance and making light conversation as herpersonal shopping assistant. The personal attention relieved her anxiety and my guidedtour offered opportunity to reveal individual products, and entire departments she mighthave missed if she had followed her prescribed path. This scenario, replayed after everyreset, illustrates two key objectives of merchandising – compel the customer to exploreanew without offending and present the opportunity for staff to engage the customerpersonally. Combined, they are a powerful catapult to increased sales.Resets and growthWe incorporate at least one dramatic visible change or “reset” into our yearly goals.Certainly, some of these are tied to needed maintenance, but a new roof does not extractthe “wow” factor as does the addition of a large mezzanine mural, remodeled entryways, Barnes & Noble-like display tables, and a memorial patio garden with adjacenttranquil perennial garden. So when our regional library system needed to install anupgrade to the ILS, we decided to take advantage of the down time to implement thisyear’s “dramatic visible change” – a reset of the children’s section. An engaging earlyliteracy program with its supporting collection and inviting spaces is foundational toour growth model. But, like a retail display with flat or falling sales, our children’ssection was in need of a makeover to boost activity and interest. When we opened threedays later, patrons were “wowed” and then a tad lost, “I love the new open spaces,iPads, and sitting areas, but where are the juvenile non-fiction books?” said one of the The Bottom Line: Managing Library Financesfirst patrons through the door. Staff guided the patron through the changes, engaged in Vol. 24 No. 3, 2011conversation, and offered their assistance. The reset provided an opportunity for staff pp. 185-186 q Emerald Group Publishing Limitedto reintroduce themselves and the collection to our patrons just as if we had reset the 0888-045Xgrocery store across the street. DOI 10.1108/08880451111186035
    • BL Resets and funding Most city departments deliver projects. The public library delivers a service. That can24,3 be a problem for the library when it comes to making its case for funding. A significant reset helps the library speak the project language of competing departments. Our most recent citizen survey indicated public safety, snowplowing, pothole repair, and the library are the top services that elicit public support for a revenue increase. Yet, the186 library is at a political disadvantage when competing with these top services. Public safety has the “fear factor” undergirding its service and public works has the extreme climate on its side. How can the library compete with catching criminals, dousing fires, clearing impassible streets, and repairing road craters without a visible enemy of its own to defeat? Certainly, ignorance is an enemy that can rally our attention, but to quantify that for the average citizen is a lot harder than the personal suffering that comes from icy streets and blown tires. Yet, the educational charge inherent in public library service is the best weapon to defeat ignorance as well as providing a persuasive narrative. Besides, when is the last time you heard a politician claim to be the “pro-ignorance, anti-education” candidate? Although the educational and cultural impact of the public library is primary, defensible, and undeniable, it does not hurt to throw in a palpable project on occasion to let them see change. Not only do “project departments” have forces of nature working in their favor, but they also have the bi-weekly attention of elected officials. This plays out to their advantage in a couple of ways. First, city officials are constantly given updates on the projects they approved. The council has a vested interest in supporting these projects toward completion and the demonstrable signs of progress and accomplishment are politically beneficial if not necessary to fuel political ambitions. Second, by city officials focusing much of their bi-weekly time on projects, it creates an underlining expectation for other departments to produce like results. I hear it expressed by non-project department heads every year at our planning workshop. The workshop begins with a review of last year’s accomplishments, and true to form, when the City Clerk speaks, she begins with “Well, I don’t have any projects to report, but . . . ” and then goes on to explain why. I can see by her body language and hear in her voice the fear of looking unproductive in comparison to new bridges, sidewalks, arrests, and extinguished fires. Although the nature of library work is not projects, I feel more fruitful being able to report at least one “dramatic visual change” to the Council in addition to the standard library usage statistics. It helps us speak their language. Conclusion When considering your work plan for 2012, make a conscious effort to include at least one dramatic visual change. The project does not have to cost much. A reset to part of the current collection could cause the circulation to increase and you will be able to speak “project language” to your council. About the author James R. Lund is Director of the Red Wing Public Library in Red Wing, Minnesota. He obtained a MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a MA in Theology from Westminster Seminary California. James has provided and managed library services in academic, graduate, and public libraries. James R. Lund can be contacted at: James.lund@ci.red-wing.mn.us To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight.com Or visit our web site for further details: www.emeraldinsight.com/reprints