De cluttering our spaces

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Librarians collect and organize. We sort and store. Some may call this collecting, others call it hoarding. In Johnson County, we came to a realization: we straighten our libraries before major stakeholders visit, but leave daily clutter in full view of our patrons – the most important stakeholders. This story demonstrates how a handful of clutter bugs straightened their acts and their libraries, and made their spaces more inviting.

Presented at the 2013 Kansas Library Conference by Julie Timmins, Stephanie Bailey & Roxanne Belcher

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  • Good morning and welcome to “On the Next Episode of Library Hoarders.” I’m Roxanne Belcher. These are my co-presenters and colleagues, Stephanie Bailey and Julie Timmins.We’re going to talk to you about how our library transitioned from the hoarding mentality to the minimalist.
  • Jot down a few reasons you’re attending this session.Consider the two images that you just looked at and think about your emotional and mental response to the two pictures. Questions to consider…Did the clear desk bring about a calming effect?Did the messy desk bring about emotions of anxiety or distraction?
  • According to Sherrie Bourg Carter, author of High Octane Women: How High Achievers Can Avoid Burnout, clutter has a pricey mental cost:Clutter gives us too much to look at, making senses work overtime to process unimportant stimuli.Too much stuff distracts attention from other tasks and slows you down when searching for something.Clutter muddles the message and makes it hard to see what is really important.
  • Clutter makes it hard to relax by invading open spaces, inhibiting creativity and signaling that we have work to do.Clutter signals to others that we may be disorganized, ineffective or overwhelmed.Messy spaces can create guilty feelings or embarrassment, resulting in anxiety.
  • Say what is on the slide.Basically, the less clutter, the less visual stress we experience.
  • This is a mission statement for all of our buildings. Over the course of 120 days, library staff focused on elevating the overall atmosphere at each location.
  • Using a scale of 1=Hoarders and 10= Modern Minimal, we were tasked at aiming for an 8-9 collectively over the course of 120 days.During the 1st 30 days we removed clutter. If we haven’t used it in the last year, we won’t use it and we had permission to get rid of it. During the next 60 days, we were tasked with identifying small maintenance or custodial issues.This initiative applied to library office spaces, public service desks, community information areas, file cabinets and closets.Now Stephanie is going to talk about what we did to alleviate clutter.
  • And then we go
  • Julie will talk about this
  • Julie will say this.
  • In Gail Blanke’s book, Throw Out Fifty things – Clear the Clutter, Find your life, she devotes a section to the home office entitled, Your Office: Paring down the professional clutter. There are a lot of good ideas in this section. Blanke recommends being brutal in throwing things away. Although the chapters are geared toward home offices, the concepts apply to the workplace as well. Most of us have similar files and folders crammed into cabinets and drawers and the author would argue, how much of this stuff actually has anything to do with who you are now, or what you’re becoming. We have to let go of what doesn’t serve our brand or brand promise. “Clutter also cramps your ability to spot the opportunity to periodically refine and at times, depending on market conditions, reinvent your brand.” At a time when an organization is working on reinventing itself, this is a powerful statement and it speaks to the point, don’t spend time on what worked in the past – live in the present.Now Stephanie is going to talk about what we did to alleviate clutter.
  • De cluttering our spaces

    1. 1. On the Next Episode of Library Hoarders Presented by Stephanie Bailey, Roxanne Belcher and Julie Timmins
    2. 2. How do we go from this….
    3. 3. To this…
    4. 4. Brainstorm: Why are you here?
    5. 5. The Cost of Clutter • Clutter gives us too much to look at. • Too much stuff distracts attention from other tasks. • Clutter muddles the message and makes it hard to see what is really important.
    6. 6. The Cost of Clutter • Clutter makes it hard to relax by invading open spaces, inhibiting creativity and signaling that we have work to do. • Clutter signals to others that we may be disorganized, ineffective, or overwhelmed. • Messy spaces can create guilty feelings or embarrassment, resulting in anxiety.
    7. 7. The Benefits of Minimalism • Clean space give the eye a chance to rest. • Minimalism reduces stress. • Patrons will focus on the materials and messages that are most important. • Minimalism supports clarity and presence.
    8. 8. Johnson County Library administration tasked staff – “Our buildings will be a source of pride.”
    9. 9. From this…. Antioch Library Information Desk, 2009
    10. 10. To this… Antioch Library Information Desk, 2013
    11. 11. Minimalist vs. Hoarder Using a scale of: 1 = Hoarder 10 = Minimalist We were tasked at aiming for an 8-9.
    12. 12. Clutter Tolerance Levels • Julie: Professional 5-6, Personal 3 “But the floor is like a shelf” • Stephanie: Lazy 9 “We can always buy another one” • Roxanne: I‟m a closet 9 “I have a saying on my office door – „I dreamed my whole desk was clean.‟ (It‟s not.)”
    13. 13. From this…. Corinth Library Work Room, 2009
    14. 14. To this… Corinth Library Work Room, 2013
    15. 15. How? • Collaborate – get everyone involved. • Rate – focus on your spaces. • Moderate – not everything at once. • Donate – junk to a good cause.
    16. 16. Scorecard Example
    17. 17. Field Trip Be sure to notice: • Entrance • Signage, especially unnecessary signage • Furniture arrangement
    18. 18. Field Trip Be sure to notice: • Is it useable? • Is it attractive? • Would YOU want to spend time here? • What can be improved?
    19. 19. Results Summary
    20. 20. Another Results Summary
    21. 21. Brainstorm: Dish.
    22. 22. Patron Comments “I love what you have done with the library. It looks so open and clean!” "I like how open the youth area is now." “I like the roominess.”
    23. 23. Patron Comments “We've been gone 3 months, and you've changed so much! I really like that the building entry way is so much more open and inviting.” “This has been a welcome transformation. Thank you!”
    24. 24. Patron Comments “You've got a beautiful place to work here. Great library.”
    25. 25. Patron Comments “What's going here? More empty space? I liked it the old way better. I really liked it the old way.” (not everyone liked the change)
    26. 26. Staff Reactions, Meagan “When I [transferred] last year, I found myself in a hoarder situation. The supply cabinets were a hazard and the office was a nightmare. The office had so much junk piled on the floor you had to clear a path to walk through it. “I had to do something about it ASAP or else I wouldn't have been able to function.”
    27. 27. Staff Reactions, Meagan “I ended up throwing out six 55-gallon trash bags full of broken toys, scraps, and dried up/unusable craft supplies. There had clearly been an organization system, but it had long been abandoned. “More than once in the time prior to the reorganization, we bought craft supplies that I later found we already had stuffed in the back of the cabinet. “I combined supplies that were stored in multiple places, removed any cardboard storage boxes, milk crates, and broken boxes, and standardized the storage and labeling.”
    28. 28. Staff Reactions (again, not everyone liked the change) “Honestly, I'm not sure how uncluttered a working desk space can be; none of the desks are bad, but they're not stark and empty either.” “We need paper. Sometimes it gets messy.” “There are 3 warm bodies in the office so each person has their own mess. Some people are just messier than others.”
    29. 29. Maintaining the Neatness • Cultural change • Periodic upkeep
    30. 30. Clutter Blurs Clarity • Decide who you are and who you aren‟t – clarify your brand. • Throw out everything that blurs that brand. • Consider going digital. • Don‟t spend time on what worked in the past – live in the present.
    31. 31. Resources No paper; we won’t contribute to your hoarder tendencies ;) Leave your email address and we’ll email you a booklist and other online resources.
    32. 32. “Out of clutter, find simplicity” - Albert Einstein

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