Rethinking the Rules of Behavior: Part 2

“A policy is a deliberate system of principles to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes.”

Wikipedia 

Last week, I wrote about how we ditched the rules and came up with a set of Expectations for Behavior at Chapel Hill Public Library.  This approach represented a pretty radical departure – both in the wording of the policy and the mindset at its foundation – so we knew that engaging staff on this approach would be critical to success.  Here are some of the ways we did that:

We made it easy.

We created a three question test to use when faced with a situation:

Is the situation at hand illegal?

Is it unsafe?

Is it making others uncomfortable?

If the answer is yes, then staff should act.  They don’t have to remember all the words of the policy, just these three measures to apply.   Continue reading “Rethinking the Rules of Behavior: Part 2”

Rethinking the Rules of Behavior: Part 1

“We’ll work it out as we go along. Let our practice form our doctrine, thus assuring precise theoretical coherence.”                       

 – Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang

No running.  No stealing. No smoking. No staring at staff.  No rearranging furniture.  No interfering with the free movement of any person.  These were just a few of the 21 specific, line-itemed behaviors prohibited in the old Rules of Behavior at Chapel Hill Public Library.  You can hop in the Wayback Machine to see the full list and the old policy here.

It might look familiar, as lots of libraries approach patron behavior in this manner.  The policy may have started out with just a few things called out, but over the years, as someone did something that wasn’t on the list, it got added to the list – that’s the Monkey Wrench Gang approach mentioned above.

That’s also how things like “Harassing staff or patrons, including but not limited to staring at or following individuals around the building.” ended up on the list.  That’s also how the default staff response became “What’s our policy on staring?” instead of a response that deals with the person and the situation first and responds accordingly.  This policy approach isn’t necessarily bad, but it wasn’t working for us.   Continue reading “Rethinking the Rules of Behavior: Part 1”

Read, Use, Join, Try, Do, Apply

Read thisThis article should be required reading for librarians, especially those who doubt the need for marketing. Ned Potter, author of Library Marketing Toolkit, interviewed Terry Kendrick, strategic marketing guru and author of Developing Strategic Marketing Plans that Really Work, for the latest issue of American Libraries.

TK-relaxed-(for-web-2-headshot-only)

Use this – The American Library Association released an “Ebook Media and Communications Toolkit” that can help librarians communicate about the state of ebooks in libraries.  At Lawrence Public Library, we repurposed some of the content for a feature on our website.  Continue reading “Read, Use, Join, Try, Do, Apply”

Six Partnerships for Public Libraries

Fred and Ginger. Batman and Robin. Starsky and Hutch. Your public library and ____________________ (insert community organization, local business, or local nonprofit here). Your library has the potential to join the list of great partnerships – all it takes is a little time, attention, and maybe a cup of coffee.

At every local, regional, and national conference I’ve attended in the past year or so, one of the frequent buzzwords has been partnerships. In an era of decreased budgets, over-stretched staff, and limited resources, partnerships make more sense than ever. Here are a half dozen partnerships that public libraries can readily develop – for programs, PR, and more.

If you’re wondering how to get starting developing these relationships, I suggest a cup of coffee. Contact the marketing officer or program director or even the agency head, and offer to buy them a cup of coffee.  Let them know that you’d like to partner more and be ready to brainstorm possibilities.  A good strategy is to start small – consider what the lowest-hanging fruit is and use that as a first effort. And don’t forget that partnerships are a two-way street: be prepared to discuss both what they can do for you and what value you can offer them in return.  Continue reading “Six Partnerships for Public Libraries”

Top Five Take Aways from PLA

PLA 2012 in Philly was a great one – a conference that revealed the hard work and innovative thinking of librarians around the country and the world.  It’s taken me a week to recover!  I went to a great preconference, saw some amazing new products on the exhibit floor, went to some inspiring sessions, and networked with some folks who I only knew by name and reputation and now consider contacts and colleagues.

Stay tuned in the next week or so for some more in-depth articles about #PLA12, but in the meantime, here are the top five things that I am bringing back home to my library to guide my actions and keep in the forefront of my thoughts: Continue reading “Top Five Take Aways from PLA”