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ACRL-NEC 2009 Conference

Twitter on the big screen

The 2009 ACRL New England Chapter conference was entitled Are you being served? Customer satisfaction and library service. I believe this theme of customer service  is becoming increasingly important, not only in libraries but in business as well.

The morning worskshop I attended was presented by Sara Laughlin, and it was called Tools for Understanding Your Customers. It was a hands on workshop in which the participants learned different ways to find out information about who their customers are and what they want. She broke down market research into six approaches:

  • Survey
  • Existing Data (yours and others’)
  • Interview
  • Focus Group
  • Observation
  • Comments/complaints

We were able to look at these approaches in depth and recognize the pros and cons of each. Understanding your patrons is key to serving them well. Libraries need to use marketing tools just like other businesses so they can know and tailor their service to their patrons.

The annual business meeting followed lunch at which I was recognized for being awarded the ACRL National Conference Scholarship. This scholarship allowed  me to attend both this conference and the ACRL National Conference in Seattle, for which I am truly grateful.

The afternoon consisted of a plenary session in which all the people who attended different sessions brought their findings and questions together to share with the group. They also used Twitter to enhance the session and projected tweets onto the big screen, which I thought was an excellent addition to the discussion.

I found Anne Washburne‘s insights to be the most helpful. She said that “people are forgetting how to be nice to each other.” Customer service is about treating people with kindness. But this also applies in your workplace. She stated that anyone can be a change agent, just by owning their work environment and being positive. This means not going into work making excuses and complaining but coming in purposefully everyday and realizing that everyday you can make a change. I know I was a little inspired.

The conference wrapped up with a social hour which I thought was very beneficial. I was able to meet a lot of different people from around New England who are doing some pretty cool things. I also may have volunteered for helping to get a stronger ACRL-NEC presence in Northern New England. I know that even in the Burlington area we have five colleges and we do not collaborate as much as we should. I would like to see a stronger cohesion and simply more conversation among us simply because I think we can learn a lot from each other and it would allow all of us to serve our customers better.

Andy Burkhardt

7 Comments

  1. Sounds like you got a lot out of it, Andy B. I agree about ACRL-NEC. I wasn’t even aware of the regional ACRL until a year ago. With so many libraries in New England, it would be great to collaborate more, even virtually! Also, this idea of “forgetting how to be nice to one another” is really powerful. Is it just allocated to customers though? What about colleagues? Partners? Vendors? How can we bring our customer service ethic out of a customer silo and have it permeate all areas?

  2. Sounds like you got a lot out of it, Andy B. I agree about ACRL-NEC. I wasn’t even aware of the regional ACRL until a year ago. With so many libraries in New England, it would be great to collaborate more, even virtually! Also, this idea of “forgetting how to be nice to one another” is really powerful. Is it just allocated to customers though? What about colleagues? Partners? Vendors? How can we bring our customer service ethic out of a customer silo and have it permeate all areas?

  3. Glad you found the conference beneficial, Andy. Re: twittering the plenary as it was going on – Amanda Izenstark, who did the tweeting – I was afraid her head would explode!
    I work at UMass Amherst, part of a 5 College consortium which is moving toward even more collaboration, e.g. buying only one copy of a book, unless it’s needed for classes. We already share a catalog, and students can cross register. It helps to have the structures in place, and buy-in from above. But we don’t see our colleagues in other schools often. I have organized meetings with just the science librarians, once a year. Try organizing meeting of local acad libns. Or a happy hour!

  4. Glad you found the conference beneficial, Andy. Re: twittering the plenary as it was going on – Amanda Izenstark, who did the tweeting – I was afraid her head would explode!
    I work at UMass Amherst, part of a 5 College consortium which is moving toward even more collaboration, e.g. buying only one copy of a book, unless it’s needed for classes. We already share a catalog, and students can cross register. It helps to have the structures in place, and buy-in from above. But we don’t see our colleagues in other schools often. I have organized meetings with just the science librarians, once a year. Try organizing meeting of local acad libns. Or a happy hour!

  5. I like that idea Naka! Something as simple as a happy hour to get conversations started. I think I’m going to try that.

    Sarah, they touched on that at the conference about not just good customer service but healthy relationships between co-workers, leaders, etc. I agree that we need to focus not only on customers but also the people who help us do our jobs.

  6. I like that idea Naka! Something as simple as a happy hour to get conversations started. I think I’m going to try that.

    Sarah, they touched on that at the conference about not just good customer service but healthy relationships between co-workers, leaders, etc. I agree that we need to focus not only on customers but also the people who help us do our jobs.

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