Author Archives: dianep

A few creative ideas to make Customer Support fun at your Library

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing” – Dale Carnegie

Oftentimes we seem to have the misconception that teaching must always be thought of as a serious act of imparting education to the receiver of such knowledge. There’s very little that is taught in a serious manner that couldn’t be improved upon by adding some light humor or fun.

Rethink your instruction classes
Begin with rethinking how you deliver instruction or information to your patrons. One way of delivering customer support is through the instruction classes given by your library. Along with teaching your regular classes on Microsoft Word, keyboard skills, or Introduction to Twitter, consider adding classes that address one or more areas in which you receive the highest amount of questions from your patrons.

Instruction with customer support in mind could include “How to navigate our databases  from your home,” “Use the online catalog without driving to the library,” or instruction on the use of your library’s “Ask-a-Librarian” type of service that your library features. Consider teaching some of your library classes online to encourage greater inclusion and participation from your homebound patrons.

At the college library where I currently work as an academic librarian, one of our former instructors used candy to motivate students in his classes during instruction. For the student chosen who then provided a correct response he would toss a roll of Smarties. If an incorrect answer was given, a Dumb Dumb sucker would soar their direction. This created an active and fun participation while at the same time, engaging the students in the subject content. It has been researched that when we engage in more than one of our senses at a time, this can reinforce the learning process.

Using gamification

Gamification represents the 21st century creation of adding game mechanics to make something more engaging to the users, similar to playing a game. Gamification is often used for the purpose of training. In the past we only had training programs like “Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing.” Although Mavis was a fictional character, she probably helped more individuals learn keyboard skills than many non-fictional instructors. Many of Mavis Beacon’s students probably forgot while participating in the training process they were learning a skill. That’s one of the goals of gamification. Gamification can lend itself to being used to create self-training programs for patrons to better acquaint them with using your existing library services and support programs.


Have you ever heard your colleagues or patrons express that they have received too many awards or certificates of recognition? Awards usually make us feel good. Including tutorials on your library’s site which allow the patron to print out a certificate following completion of learning a new skill such as “How to read a library e-Book from home” can motivate users to stay current in using all of the library’s programs, databases, and resources your library has to offer them. Consequently, this can reduce some of the time your library spends answering customer support questions while at the same time empowering your patrons.

Point System

The point system is another motivator especially if the points can then be traded in for something valuable to the holder of the accrued points. Offering points to patrons for completing online or physical feedback forms while at the same time offering points to staff who receive positive feedback, the library can then award items such as a coupon “Redeemable for 1 complimentary paperback from our bookstore.” This cannot help but motivate patrons to continue to improve your library services while continuing to strengthen the library staff’s ongoing customer support skills.

4 Ways an “Ask a Librarian” Presence on your Online Databases Empowers your Library


Multitasking is incorporated into our 21st century work production and technologies. Having the capability to simultaneously access multiple technologies is often a requirement of today’s workforce. We have become structured to completing multiple tasks at one sitting and when our work demands it. it is advantageous to have our libraries accommodating this need as well.

It is common for database users to have questions

While working at the reference desk of the library, a high percentage of the questions called in from our patrons relate to accessing the databases. Usually, database access requires the patron to know their borrower ID, password, PIN or other access codes. It would be beneficial for patrons to have the option of selecting an “Ask a Librarian” presence for convenience in contacting a librarian for their questions when attempting to access their library’s databases.

Adds a personal touch to your services

Working with databases can sometimes feel impersonal, especially when the patron is new to database usage and requires the assistance of the librarian. Offering patrons the option of an “Ask a Librarian” presence can lessen the users feelings of being overwhelmed and frustrated when navigating through the databases or while using some of the library’s other online technologies.

Connects patrons back to their library

Libraries are attempting to encourage more patron usage in our physical libraries to allow for greater interaction while at the same time increasing our patron’s awareness of our in-house resources including computer instruction classes, speakers from our communities, the latest bestsellers along with introducing them to the other materials and technologies we have to offer them within the physical walls of their libraries. This could be seen as a win-win for patrons and libraries. As we acquaint our users with an “Ask a Librarian” presence, we are in essence tightening our limited opportunities for closer interactions with our users.

Provides library staff the opportunity to introduce patrons to other library services

When library patrons connect to the library for assistance while using our databases, oftentimes it is apparent to librarians that we have additional resources we can introduce the patron to that can be beneficial for their research or school work that they may not be aware of. Last week when a student used our “Ask a Librarian” service in relating his difficulty in finding database information for his chosen research topic, I suggested we also search America’s Newspapers database, where together, we netted a variety of results. This is just one example of the constructive interplay that can be developed between patrons and librarians by including an “Ask a Librarian” type of presence on your online databases.

Diane Perrine is a freelance writer and an academic librarian at the College of Central Florida in Ocala, Florida. She resides in Ocala Florida.
Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, bicycling, volunteering and learning something new everyday.

This article is provided by Mosio for Libraries. To receive these directly in your inbox, please register for our Patron Support Tips Newsletter.

Patron Support Simplified

Marketing Lessons from NYPL – 3 Great Executions that Built a Buzz

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“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself” ~ Peter F. Drucker

The unparalleled way to promote your service or product would be to intrinsically build within that product or service the finest features the customer would want that type of product to embody. This accurately defines the formation and continued success of the New York Public Library (NYPL).

Originally executing its architectural grandness, continuing with the library’s holdings while staying current with technology, NYPL continues to grow with the times while remaining a historic landmark.

There was considerable wisdom exercised in the amalgamation of great architecture with a great library, the one can’t help but complement the other. This is one of the original defining executions of the New York Public Library. The Beaux-Arts masterpiece, constructed with white Dorset marble, featuring a wide staircase guiding library patrons to three grand arches next to Corinthian columns supporting relief sculptures representing philosophy, romance, religion, poetry, drama and history. Edward Clark Potter’s famous sculpted stone lions Patience (Lady Astor) and Fortitude (Lord Lenox) guard the library’s south and north side, respectively.

The collection housed within the New York Public Library is itself another inherent marketing attraction. Some of NYPL’s permanent in-house residents include the Gutenberg Bible, an original manuscript copy of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, Charles Dickens’ favorite letter opener, a 1493 copy of Columbus letter announcing discovery of the New World, Jack Kerouac’s crutches, Truman Capote’s cigarette case, approximately 40,000 restaurant menus from the 1850′s to current and for the children or children at heart, the original Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed animals along with the thousands of books and items including musical scores, historic maps, art, recordings and manuscripts.

NYPL is hardly resting on its historical laurels alone in continuing to market their distinguished resource. Staying current with technology represents another mark of success with the NYPL. Patrons today can be seen throughout the library accessing Wi-Fi on their laptops. The library’s automated book delivery system sends books within minutes of request by conveyor to the Rose Main Reading Room (seats more than 600 readers) where the public can read with the help of the original Carre-and-Hastings lamps. NYPL’s marketing understands the value of social media, employing sites such as Twitter where in March 2013 they encouraged their Twitter followers at @NYPL to submit “poetic tweets” for their poetry contest. Along with Twitter, the library is staying current in marketing by using other sites including Facebook, Google, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

Continuing to embrace its past while staying mindful of the future, NYPL accommodates to changes that are necessary to continue forward. With its structural integrity, magnificent collections and current technologies, NYPL has continued to prove itself a marketing success.

Diane Perrine is a freelance writer and an academic librarian at the College of Central Florida in Ocala, Florida. She resides in Ocala Florida.
Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, bicycling, volunteering and learning something new everyday.

This article is provided by Mosio for Libraries. To receive these directly in your inbox, please register for our Patron Support Tips Newsletter.

Patron Support Simplified

Walking in Your Patron’s Shoes: A few exercises can improve your levels of service and empathy


Is your library open to input/changes   Does your library make it easy for patrons to provide input and suggestions from their perspective?  Comment boxes located strategically throughout your building can convey your openness to receiving input from patrons. It’s one thing for your patrons to comment on what they feel would be improvements or needed changes during their transactions with library staff, however, showing that you are seeking their feedback can be even more paramount to providing excellent customer service. Our patrons often provide excellent tips and suggestions from their perspectives that would be more difficult to see from our point of view as library staff.

 Accessibility   ADA compliancy is something most of us take seriously and currently have in place.  However, are we staying mindful of the provisions helpful to our patrons with children and those with mobility limitations? A few years back our library invited students from our college’s Equal Access Department to survey both floors of the library while completing a comment sheet from their wheelchair-access perspective. Some of their comments  included poor signage placement inside our elevator, placement of study room sign-up sheets were at an unaccommodating height, and although we were ADA compliant, our periodical and newspaper areas created maneuverability issues we were unaware of prior to our students completing this exercise. We have since been cognizant of all of these issues and others and are thankful this input was provided. Had we not been open to input, we perhaps would have never known to make these improvements in the area of accessibility.

When working in any library or public building, it’s important to take into consideration all of those who will be using the accommodations. Receiving input from your users will only prove to become more beneficial as you continue to grow with your patrons while moving forward.

Diane Perrine is a freelance writer and an academic librarian at the College of Central Florida in Ocala, Florida. She resides in Ocala Florida.
Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, bicycling, volunteering and learning something new everyday.

This article is provided by Mosio for Libraries. To receive these directly in your inbox, please register for our Patron Support Tips Newsletter.

Patron Support Simplified