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Bisac and beyond: Adapting Retail Practices in a Library Setting

Libraries are experimenting with all manner of retail practices, but what works, how does it work and how well does it work? What kind of retail environments are appropriate models? How much does the library change to fit the practice, instead of the other way around? McMillan Memorial Library examines its implementation of BISAC/genre displays, coffee and food service, Commons area and self-service options and offers lessons learned. Presented at Wisconsin Library Association 2010 conference. Download to see full speaker's notes.

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Bisac and beyond: Adapting Retail Practices in a Library Setting

  1. 1. BISAC and Beyond: Adapting Retail Practices in a Library Setting Andy Barnett Assistant Director - McMillan Memorial Library Wisconsin Rapids
  2. 2. Starting Out • If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him • Next practices not best practices • The direction of change is more important than the pace of change • Change is additive/addictive • From an age of scarcity to an age of abundance
  3. 3. Adapt not Adopt • A government function, with a community based purpose • Social good, not volume/profit • Watch your language • Be the best library you can be
  4. 4. Public ≠ Private Sector • Mission • Third place, not home or the marketplace • ROI • Profit center • Incentives • Metrics in general • Niche marketing
  5. 5. Public = Private Sector • Customer driven • Design / layout / wayfinding • Hours • Importance of perception • Become a destination
  6. 6. Steal These • Have a (saleable/explainable) purpose • Be intentional (economy of force) • Strategy not tactics • Plan as if your job depended upon it • Life long relationships
  7. 7. What models? • Sam’s Club = bad model • Kalahari = better model • Welcoming and hospitable • Effective and efficient • Surprise and delight
  8. 8. Cutting Edge Libraries • Thank you! • Proof of concept • Conditions for success • Costs • Trade offs
  9. 9. Are you on the right track? • Five Laws of Library Science • Benefits users, not just staff • People first, then things • Tech like you want/use at home • Wow factor
  10. 10. Paco Underhill & Design • Retail anthropologist • Comfortable, easy, practical, fast • Design as people management • Design as theater • If a TV crew was coming, what would you change?
  11. 11. Self-Service Options • Self-service often best service • Non-service isn’t • Staffed self-check – like WalMart • Staff, design, signage changes
  12. 12. Wayfinding • Important piece of self-service • Intuitive and self-navigable • Design, layout and decoration • Sightlines – patron and staff both • Better signage / less clutter
  13. 13. Display Oriented Library • Display / merchandise as much as possible • Genre collections • Wayfinding and in-library users • Develop browsing areas • Size matters • Implement incrementally
  14. 14. Implementation @ MCM • Display shelving for New Book area • Genre / subject collections of New Books • Display shelving for AV • Additional permanent genre collections • Creating display areas wherever possible • We still have stacks (so far) • Three levels – new/stacks/system
  15. 15. Just in Time • Originally an industrial concept • Shared systems and delivery make it work • Leaner local collection • Three levels – library/system/ILL • 80/20 rule?
  16. 16. Zoning • Different zones = different purposes = different rulesets • Children’s Room a common zone • Social/quiet zone often missing • Unenforceable rules or missing mission
  17. 17. Commons @ MCM • Social zone for all ages • Dominant users vary by time of day • A Children’s Room for adults and teens • Food, drink and wireless • Strict enforcement of rules • Benefits other zones
  18. 18. Coffee / Food Service • Service, not profit center • Part of being a destination • Level of quality • Staffing and hours • Implementation @ MCM – High quality – Library staffing
  19. 19. Right size /staff • Changes in operation should equal changes in staffing • Libraries move slowly on staffing • Right size = fewer staff • Right staff = changed mix of staff • Re-examine position descriptions • Re-examine structure • Volunteers
  20. 20. Take aways • Remember who you are • Adapt don’t adopt • Infuse self-service • Manage change • Be a great library

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