If you build it, they will come...



In response to some issues recently raised on the blog, we would like to reiterate some key points about priorities at work. I would also recommend that everyone reads the comments posted in response to Charlie's recent "opinion" posting.

* Library work is the reason and focus for your work time.

* Personal entertainment, projects, homework, etc. are not work related activities. They are perks of working in the Periodicals/Reserves unit but are not the reason you should come to work.

* When assigned a project, you are expected to immediately attend to that project and remain focused on this task.

* At all times you are expected to exhibit good customer service skills. It's especially important to proactively work on appearing approachable and helpful to Library users. We are encouraging you to work particularly hard on approachability because users did not rate us as highly in this area in the recent customer service survey (i.e. comments like "library staff looked busy").

* We do not communicate approachability to users when engrossed in the Internet, homework, reading etc. While working at the desk, use common sense and do "lighter" work that does not dominate your attention. You should always be able to tell what is happening in the room and to have your attention directed towards serving customers.

* Being approachable means practicing concrete approachability skills. For some people, this is natural. For others, it is something that requires more practice. Make sure to be in the habit of consistently using eye contact, friendly facial expressioins, greetings, open body language, and good posture. Not looking busy is also an important part of approachability.

* Using your own personal lap top at the desk creates a barrier between you and the library user and can really make you not appear approachable. For this reason, we will be asking you not to use lap tops at work from now on.

* If non-work activities are keeping you from focusing on Library duties or hinder approachability, full time staff may ask you to stop doing them.

These reminders are really about building a culture and environment where Library users receive great service, feel valued and know that they are our first priority. You are a very, very important part of building this, and we want to thank you for the work that you do. Please comment here or talk to me with questions, disagreements, etc. about these issues.


The point of my opinion posting might have been missed or perhaps inadequately supported; the unfettered library-to-patron connection can be maintained while multi-tasking with work and non-work activities by relying on a student's level of professionalism and judgment. The library all ready takes advantage of our ability to multi-task at the desk through projects like replacing microfiche envelopes with acid-free ones. My hope is not to be cantankerous here, but rather to be sure that my opinion has been expressed and received well. I sympathize for those who still disagree with me, as there is a certain minor concern in giving everyone free license to judge for themselves. I only stand where I do because I think our first priority (serving the patron) need not be compromised if we make it perfectly clear to every student worker exactly what their first priority at work should be.

Let me know what you think! I appreciate the opportunity to write on this issue.

Charlie, I think we understand one another. Your opinion has been well-supported, well-received and understood. I agree that multi-tasking (always keeping a good "eye" towards patron services while completing other light tasks) works for our overall goal of patron services. And yes, we do expect that everyone will continue to use their good judgment to figure out what kinds of light tasks they can do without taking attention away from patrons (and being available to patrons -- the crucial "approachability factor" that I've mentioned several times).

I do want to be clear to everyone on one point: after taking into account what folks have said about this topic, staff has made a decision that computer restrictions will remain as is. This policy is not, in general, up for discussion. The reasons behind this policy have been discussed at length in other places on the blog, so I won't reiterate them here.

We are (as always) open to talking with anyone about their viewpoints and appreciate the discussion that has happened around this policy. If you have further concnerns, continue to let me know. Thanks!

Also to be very clear: We do not consider anyone to be "cantankerous" for expressing their opinion -- keep your thoughts coming!

FYI, this post continues a previous post entitled, "Opinion: Desk computers are needlessly restrictive."

Approachability needs great communication skills. You need to be more effective in communicating so that even if you feel stressed, or you are busy, you can still be nice to the customers or to people approaching you.

Those body languages, gestures, facial expressions, which are part of your communication skills are very important to your approachability. You must appear to be willing to entertain queries to customers.


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by crss published on July 19, 2006 1:18 PM.

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