Steven Bell recently posted about a retreat he attended with his public service colleagues. In the post he shared a great video of a presentation by Seth Godin called “Why Things are Broken.”
Godin discusses various like road signs, bike racks, or a million dollar laser cutter and they’re all broken. The video got me thinking about things that are broken in libraries. How many paper signs do you have up that explain how something works, or why you have a specific policy? There are plenty of pictures and posts about bad library signs. I know at our library we have some really old signs up that I’m sure us librarians don’t even notice anymore, but probably are unnecessary or could be updated.
How many policies really frustrate the people you are supposed to be serving? A no food in the library policy is one that I think is really broken. Sometimes you have good reasons for policies. We don’t let scissors leave the desk because our magazines keep getting chopped up. Perhaps some libraries don’t allow food because they have some rare materials that are irreplaceable. But articulate WHY these policies are in place, and look for exceptions (e.g. you can eat food on the first floor).
One library recently realized that their classification system was broken and decided to do something about it. [UPDATED: this article was supposed to be humorous, see the comments] The College of Eastern Nevada decided to abandon their outdated classification system in favor of something more familiar to their users…a Netflix categorization model!
Don’t be constrained by the past. Try to see the library with fresh eyes. Take a look around your library and ask yourself what’s broken? You might be surprised at all the improvements you can make.