Since I have a few new staff members, and am hiring one more, lately I’ve realized that I spend most of my time training people on procedures. I spend very little time telling them about what I think are really important things about being a Children’s Librarian in general, and a Children’s Librarian in my department in particular. So I thought I’d see if I could come up with a few, and here’s the first one:
Walk patrons to wherever it is they need to go in the library.
Don’t shove a piece of paper at someone and expect them to decode it and find where they’re supposed to go. Don’t say things like “Turn right at the doorway and then turn left and go past the desk and up the stairs one flight and turn left and ask at the big desk.” If the patron is anything like me when it comes to verbal directions, you lost them back at “turn left”.
The reason I give this one such importance is that I hate feeling stupid, and I have a feeling that a lot of adults out there associate feeling stupid with the library. They feel that they should know how to look things up and find them themselves, so if they even have to ask the question, right there they feel a little dumb. Dads in particular, like the annoyed-looking father I helped the other day who said he was having a hard time finding Where the Wild Things Are even though he had the author’s name, “Maurice”, do not like looking stupid in front of their kids. So walk them where they’re going so they don’t have to ask someone else.
It also gives you the chance to talk with them as you go–you can use that time to explain a little of how things are organized, or just chat with them so they have a warmer library experience.
So, that’s the first thing I believe: Walk the patrons where they need to go.