Monday, June 22, 2009

GIFSL*: 33. Lessons from Elsewhere

I never studied marketing or merchandising in any of my tertiary qualifications.  More and more in the last couple of years I've been paying attention to what I can learn from the world around me every day.  How do shops entice us in?  What draws the eye in a particular advertisement layout? How can I borrow, adapt, rework these ideas for my library?

Last week I bought a magazine to do with Elsewhere, the life that isn't about work and teacher librarianship, but about other interests, activities, people, places; the life funded by the happy life of being a teacher librarian.  This magazine showcases craft shops, and as I read, I was finding lessons from Elsewhere.  I've only tweaked the quotes slightly... how many can you tick for your library?

  • Inside, she went for the WOW! factor.  "I want [borrowers] to be overwhelmed."
  • Samples sell, so she hangs dozens throughout the shop.
  • "If they haven't been [reading] we want them to start.  If they don't want to [find books] themselves, we do it for them."
  • "We cater for different tastes".  She includes [staff/students] in her [book-buying] decisions to ensure customers have variety.
  • "I want to make the [library] fun, " she says, "to make sure it's the best experience of the [borrower's] day."
  • She builds customer self-esteem by helping them finish their work, by posting photos of it around the [library].
  • Customers travel long distances to visit the [library].
  • Customers can [borrow] small pieces or large [quick reads or long reads].
  • "We help our customers.  I don't want anyone to quit because they [can't do it/understand it/need help].
  • "We give a little to our customers and get a whole lot back."
  • "They appreciate seeing things in my shop that they don't see in other places."
  • "I want to encourage [students] to do things they think are out of their reach."
  • "Being part of this network of people who love [learning/reading] is so rewarding."
  • X is a regular at the [library].  How regular? "I have to go often! They get new [books] in all the time and are always changing the [library] around."
  • One of the [teacher librarian's] key goals was to create a welcoming atmosphere.  "People come to our [library] because they know we care about them and are always happy to see and serve them."
  • "We carry a wide range of [books] - not just my favourites, but your favourites, also.  People come for the variety and stay for the fun."
  • "The [library] is always filled with wonderful [books], with new ones introduced [highlighted] weekly.  I don't know of one [borrower] who leaves the [library] uninspired."
  • The space is small, but its character compensates.
  • [I'm doing] "what I've dreamed of doing," says the [teacher librarian].
  • There are many artfully arranged displays of [books], making it easy for [borrowers] to pick them up.
  • "We pull together [books] that go together.. [Borrowers] find these irresistible.  They're an inspirational starting point."
  • Near the front of the [library] are frequently changing displays of [books].  The myriad samples around the [library] provide additional inspiration.
  • "I [read] a lot, every day," says the [teacher librarian].
  • "It's fun and it's exciting," says the [teacher librarian].  "I love to see [lots of books borrowed/read]; it means that my customers are happy, that we've made good choices for them and that we get to make more."
  • "We asked our customers what they wanted."
  • Special events, large and small, are always happening.
  • [Teacher librarianship] has changed a lot.  Now there are so many directions you can take."
  • "You get people hooked, show them how easy it is, and they're amazed they really can do it."
  • Service with a smile is the [library's] philosophy.  "We're friendly and helpful to everyone who comes in the door."
  • "It's comfortable."
  • "If a student says she can't do it, I take it down to a level where she can."
  • In the [library] she likes [borrowers] to browse.  "I tell people their [reading] doesn't have to be perfect.  I want them to enjoy the journey, and to feel like they want to come back - right away."
  • An ever-changing array...
  • "We're known for..."
  • "I work hard to make sure my customers find things here they won't find in other places."
  • "I take great pleasure in meeting so many people who share a passion for [books/learning/reading].  The world abounds with talented people, and I gather a lot of inspiration by surrounding myself with them."
  • "We try to offer a variety, a kaleidoscope of ideas."
  • "[Borrowers] are proud that this is their [school library]."
There is no way I'll tell you I ticked off on every one of these - because I didn't.  But there's great food for thought.  For the shop owners quoted above, the importance of meeting their customers' needs is of dollar sign importance, business survival, business success.  These are the strategies they are using - successfully - to get it right.  While I sometimes inserted 'borrowers', I left in the word 'customers' here and there too.

Wouldn't it be great if our kids found that a visit to their school library was "the best experience" of their day?

Cheers, Ruth

*GIFSL = Good Ideas For School Libraries


Fiona said...

These quotes are inspiring and lift my enthusiasm for working in a library. Thanks, and I hope you don't mind if I put a link to this post on my blog tomorrow.

Shane Symonds said...

An excellent entry, Ruth. Even though the statements obviously pertain to craft stores, or whatever they were, there is material there which is relevant to us. Thanks, Shane