Innovative Services & Practices

I’ve come full circle this afternoon by coming back to the Cultivating Innovation & Change track. This late afternoon session on Innovative Services & Practices is being presented by John Blyberg, Gretchen Hams, Sarah Ludwig, Kate Sheehan from the Darien Library. Serve community of 20-20K people.

John kicked things off.

Libraries have not been preparing for the future in a way that is sustainable. Traditional library services misaligned with needs of the users. Took services apart and reassembled to meet needs of the users. “Delete” the reference desk.

Sometimes we fail with innovation. That’s ok.

We have to adapt and be willing to adapt.

Innovate. Fail. Adapt.

Users do not see drastic change they see us responding to their needs.

If you build change and innovation into your culture your staff and users will come to expect it.


Gretchen – Children’s Librarian

Children’s librarians don’t always get a seat at the innovation table.

Picture books start with QJ. We’re asking customers to assume this knowledge.

Reorganized picture books and used color coded labels to empower browsers and searchers.

People come to the library as a 3rd place – especially in the winter to get out and socialize.

Just putting computers in the children’s room is not good enough.We need to find ways for them to collaborate.

Story time should not be one way. Kids should participate.

Examples of innovation: kids giving tours of the library, signs made by kids.

We’ve been missing a special demographic by focusing on only the kids and not their parents who don’t always know about adult services available.

Sarah – Teen and Technology Librarian

Teen room does not have a service desk

Teen space has all glass walls to see what is going on from outside

Trust teens with their space. If you give them the trust they will respect the space.

All furniture is movable.

Teens can move it where ever they want and whenever they want.

Let them make it their own!

Gaming – you should be doing it if you are serving teens.

DPL does not program around it. Just leave it open for them to use as they want.

Use tools to reach teens – Facebook.

If working with teens it is not appropriate to use a personal Facebook page. Need to have a professional teen librarian appearance. Do not friend coworkers or other adults. Only teens.

Kate – Reference

Reference is dead. Roving.

Long term wanted to move to 1 on 1 reference.

Meet people at their need without being invasive.

Allow people to browse independently.

When you change your space you have more space.

Reference desk was scary! Now a small curvy table.

Put 300 and 600 personal finance together.

If you rove you need a wireless phone.

We are able to do a lot of reference because we are not doing computer sign ups and tech support and other things.

Most important tool has been name tags.

Reorganizing is like weeding. Permanent upkeep. Constantly ask why you are doing this. Reassess.

You might not get a lot of positive feedback. The happy users will go along their way. The unhappy ones will complain the loudest.

“We have all changed our shoes. We no longer wear heels, but we all have great legs.” This is the best quote of the conference! This session really hit home with me as my own library is moving toward a similar service model.

About Lori Reed

Lori Reed, coauthor of Workplace Learning & Leadership: A Handbook for Library and Non-Profit Trainers, is a learning and communication strategist with more than twenty years experience in learning and development. A 2009 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and a 2010 "One to Watch" for paralibrarians, Lori graduated cum laude from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication. Lori is a certified Synchronous Learning Expert and a North Carolina Master Trainer and has traveled across North America speaking about libraries and training.

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