People skills in the library

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In Library Journal‘s June 1st issue, Aaron Schmidt makes an interesting proposition in his article “Focus on People, Not Tools.” So much talk in LibraryLand these days is about social networks, 3-D printers, and any kind of technology trend that we can glom on to.

But what’s happened to our connection with the community? We need to be talking not just about the technology that goes into maker-spaces, but WHY maker spaces are needed in our towns and neighborhoods and how the products being made at maker spaces are positively affecting our lives.

Also, I would personally like to see more articles about customer service best practices. We are in the service industry and we need to make good customer service a priority if people are going to return to our buildings again and again. I still see too many librarians and library staff acting like it’s such a drag to be helping people. Come on now, that’s what working in a library is all about! Stop your bellyaching and act like you care about what book that guy should read next, or the articles that college student needs to find for a paper. I know our work is not always exciting or glamorous, but that’s not why I got into this business. And yes, I understand that there are those patrons who call in for phone numbers constantly or have eccentricities that we’ve come to know and “love.” They deserve our patience and best service too. Those are the best people to practice excellent customer service on because the harder interactions will build your tolerance and resilience. In any service industry, there will be people who push your buttons or rub you the wrong way. It will never go away. So we have to build skills that will help us cope and strengthen our commitment to help, no matter the question, no matter the person.