Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's All About People

When I ask patrons what it is they like about visiting the library, the first response I get is almost always the same - the staff. When I ask library staff what is it that they like about working at the Kankakee Public Library, the answer is always the same - the patrons. It's no surprise what a patron-staff Mutual Admiration Society we've got going on here considering how much the staff here goes out of their way to do things for people. Last week, for example, Vicki in Adult Services was taking flyers around the area for an upcoming library concert and in our parking lot an older, confused-looking gentlemen approached her, "can you help me? I'm not from here and I need to find a phone." It turns out, sadly, he was in town for his daughter's funeral. She brought him inside the library to the Circulation Desk so that he could use a phone and helped him to find the bus schedule. It was a small gesture on Vicki's part, but a big deal to the gentleman from out of town during a stressful time in his life.

I think that non-library people may be surprised that the word "books" wasn't used here. But is it books that brings patrons back time and time again? Of course books have something to do with it - but certainly not everything. I've been approached by would-be library students who have asked me why they should be a librarian. I always ask "do you like people?" If I don't get an emphatic "yes!" then I am hesitant to urge them to go into the profession. I even committed what I am sure some people would consider Library Heresy by pleading with one library student to *not* continue with library school because of his blatant dislike of people.

It's all about people. You don't have to be an avid reader...you don't have to be a techie geek...but if you don't like people - you're not going to be happy or successful working in libraries.

Allison Beasley
Head of Adult Services


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