Deepening the Conversation

thinking about questions of authority, technology, learning, and 2.0 in academic libraries

It’s all in the details

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I’m traveling today, not for pleasure, and have become newly assured that I am not cut out for North Country living. Also, newly assured that user-centered, service-oriented is a must for libraries. Because if we don;t do it, we’re gonna leave folks feeling like I do today. And if today is enough to make me want to relocate, imagine what we’ll do to lifelong library users if we treat them without consideration? (note about the NorthCountry: it could be defined as having a core disregard for the needs of folks. Frontier thinking, insular to a crippling point, generally concerned about personal impacts of any and all decisions and behaviors. There are exceptions, but that’s the culture in a nutshell. You may be familiar with it politically, in NH and VT politics. But it ain’t just writ large, it’s business hours, types of stores, zoning,you name it) I’m talking little things, but so many of them, with accumulated resentment. Like the fact that not one single thing I have tried to buy today — including ferry tickets or lunch at a major regional airport — was able to be purchased on credit card. Seriously, I’m doing reimbursable travel here, and I am expected to pay cash for every step along the way? I suppose I’m just supposed to be glad that lunch was for sale at the airport, and that that bagel shop was open (it was after all the second bagel store I tried to shop at this morning). Which is all supposed to make me forget that nobody is feeding me on my noon flight, which I was originally thrilled to have as a direct flight (seriously! when was the last time I had a direct flight??), only to discover that I will be spending three hours smashed into a 44 seater. Life is inconvenient enough these days. Travel is a disaster, from cost to comfort. Add in poor signage, ridiculous stretches of time, and then inconsideration of the details ( um, a carry out only bagel shop on an island between the ferry dock and anywhere else which only spreads half the bagel and doesn’t cut anything through — could they not forsee that their food was gonna be eaten while driving?) So, what can we already tell about patrons lives, and what can we assume about the frustrations they already live with? At minimum, that they already are frustrated, for sure. What details can we come up with to smooth over, to make easier? Because the irritants have longer staying power, and even override the good things (like, for example, the excellent free wifi at the airport I’m currently using)? I’ve got more to say abotu this, but may just be in too foul a mood to think them through right now. And I have to go get chipper for today’s later events…. More on service later, you can be sure.

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