Smiles in Libraries

4 Sep

I’ll admit that I usually scan quite quickly through my copy of the CLA’s Feliciter magazine when it comes in the mail. This week when I received my latest issue and saw that it was completely dedicated to images from the CLA 2010 conference in Edmonton I assumed that it would quickly be put aside. Although I was disappointed to miss the CLA conference this year because it conflicted with our McGill School of Information Studies graduation ceremony, I wasn’t necessarily excited to look through the photos of all the smiling librarians who did get to attend. However, instead of tossing the magazine aside, I found myself extremely interested in the reports written by the library school students who summarized the highlights of various conference sessions.

The reports were all extremely well written and I felt that the students from the different Canadian library school programs all succeeded in capturing the interesting points from their sessions. I was especially motivated to read University of Toronto iSchool’s Kate Perch’s article on the session “Hot Topic: International Librarianship –CLA’s Role in IFLA”. As many of you know, I am extremely interested in international librarianship and since I dream of one day getting involved in IFLA, the title of this session particularly grabbed my attention. In this article, Kate Perch quotes a discussion question from this session “How many smiles do libraries create every day?”.  I LOVE this question! Since my blog is already full of my geeky proclamations of how passionate I am about libraries and librarianship then there is no harm in admitting that since reading this quote a few days ago, I have become obsessed with this question. Seriously, I have been extra observant of all of our users to see if they are leaving the library with a smile on their faces. I am starting to think that in addition to ticking off  on a page the number of reference questions we receive for our library statistics, we should also be keeping a record of how many smiles we see in the library on a daily basis. This relates somewhat to Alvin Schrader’s talk « Getting Beyond Library Statistics: Challenges in Capturing Library Meaning and Telling the Whole Story of Library Value » at the ABQLA’s 2010 conference in May. Schrader’s presentation also got me thinking of better ways to understand the value of libraries in the lives of our users and a smile is certainly an indisputable visual display of someone’s satisfaction. Are you conscious of the smiles of users in your library? Is there a formal way of calculating smiles that could be included in official reports? Let me know what you think and I’d like to thank Kate Petch for publishing this great article that has got me so pumped!


4 Responses to “Smiles in Libraries”

  1. Ekaterina September 4, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    I love to notice how a visitor’s mood changed in our library (MGH library), when f.ex. he/she approaches us with a perplexed or upset look on the face in the desperate search to find an article or a book or in a try to use our catalogue. And how happy and smiling they are if we manage to help them. This is a real reward for us 🙂

    As for the last Feliciter issue I like very much the article about librarian portofolio for a job search. A lot for me to think about!

  2. Megan September 5, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    I love this way of thinking! I also think that smiles on the faces of *staff* (as well as clients) are important to evaluating the success of an organization.

    This might be a case where the famous Einstein quote applies: “Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.”

  3. carodoi September 9, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    I agree! Having someone leave the library feeling better because of the experience they had is a great feeling for everyone involved – patron AND staff.

  4. Kate Petch April 22, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Oh! I’m obviously very late to see this, but I’ve been studiously ignoring my WordPress account and its alerts for faaar too many months. Thank you so much for getting so excited about smiles in libraries! It (obviously) grabbed me too, and I’m glad to see it connected with others!!! 🙂 And thanks very, very, very much for reading the article, and for blogging about it!!

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