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.

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