Friday, November 30, 2012

What's the holdup?

Umm... has this ever happened to you?  You're going through donated books and hello! A library employee in Indiana got a surprise last month.  The weirdest thing? It's not the first time.  Be careful in the book drop, fellow SSDers.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Top 5 customer service tips for your library

Here are the top 5 things that I have learned while training and learning about customer service for many (many!) years. Like all things the more I learn, the more there is to learn. Life is a work in progress!

Be healthy!
Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep. It is much easier to be helpful if you feel good.

3 Cs! Make a connection. Have a conversation. Create options.
Connect with a smile, eye contact or by listening to cute cat stories. Good conversations often include clear simple language and are at least 50% listening. Create options based on what will work for this patron or co-worker.

It is everyone’s job to make everyone else’s job easier.
If every co-worker tried to make things easier on the people they work with, wouldn’t the world be a lovely place? Do your fair share of the workload. Be kind, courteous and open to others’ ideas.

You can only control your own behavior and expectations.
You cannot make anyone else behave the way you want. However, by setting a good tone and working collaboratively, you will be amazed at how many patrons and co-workers will follow your lead. Set reasonable expectations -- it is impossible for everyone to do things your way all the time! -- so that you can avoid disappointment and be open to new ways of thinking and doing.

Forgive and forget.
Holding on to negative feelings is extremely stressful. Be good to yourself and others and let it go. Let minor disappointments go quickly. For more major issues, remember that everyone makes mistakes and that people often grow and change. Give it some time, then give people another chance. 

Jennifer Steward is the Circulation Analyst for Multnomah County Libraries, and is a regular blogger on sup·port·abil·i·ty.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Althetes of the library

Perusing the various websites that address the subject of library ergonomics can be slightly on the boring side of things: pdf files aimed at management or dry documents put out by insurance companies.  However, some of the sites are really well done and have some eye-catching teasers and fascinating information. For example: "And working with computers, mice, and monitors requires many of the same skills that successful athletes have."  Whaaat?  And did you know your head weighs 15 pounds?

This comes to us from the UC Riverside Libraries ergonomics website, a comprehensive list of ergonomics for using computers in the library.  Some of the info looks a bit dated - the link for keyboard shortcuts takes you to a site listing Windows 95 shortcuts, but hey, they still work.

Go check out their tips and while you may not end up confidently pole vaulting over your cubicle, I guarantee you will sit up a little straighter at your computer.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Yes, the political campaigning is over, however there's one more election left in November. You may have noticed our officer list has been updated over on the right side of your screen, and you may have noticed that some of the positions are vacant. That's where you, the OLA Support Staff Members come in: the ballot for open positions can be found here, so go vote!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Yo ho ho and a bottle of... water

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /
In response to my last post on ergonomics (for your eyes), I received an email from the folks at with a nice little note saying we can use any information on their site because "We want it to help as many people as possible." They sent me a link for Office Safety Tips, which are not library specific, but I'm sure some of us in libraries work in offices, right?

The one thing that really jumped out at me that I haven't seen in any ergonomics presentations before was the command to "Stay hydrated".  Good advice!  Which got me thinking about the water bottle I always have close at hand at my job in a public library, which got me thinking about food and drink in libraries in general and situations where that is and isn't allowed.  I've had retail jobs where employees were not allowed to drink on the sales floor because of the image it presented, and I remember being thirsty for a good part of the time.  I would imagine that it is a no-no for people that work in archiving situations, but what about other libraries?  When I tell patrons they are welcome to bring food in to the library, I get looks of disbelief and a repeat of the question with a "really?" attached to it.  Was there a time when it was not ok to bring food and drink into a public library that has lingered in the mind of the collective? I would imagine it was when "shushing" was still really prevalent. Which may or may not show my age.

So what's the verdict: Does your library allow you to have food and drink in the building? How do you stay properly hydrated at work?