Is It All About The Customer?

November 4, 2006

Bottom line – of course, it is all about the customer. Without patrons, there would be no need for libraries. However, how far can we realistically go to meet the needs of customers???? Jessamyn West asks “how do we learn to set new boundaries?” in a post over on librarian.net. This is an important question. She asks it in response to a post over on Info Breaker about a patron who thought her books should have been renewed by the library because she was in Florida on vacation (she says that she told someone at the library this bit of information).

This begs the question how far should we go to provide our patrons with services they want and/or need. In a perfect world, the answer should be as far as possible. However, in reality, there are all sorts of constraints that limit what services we can provide – time, money, knowledge, resources, technology, government regulations, etc. Ultimately, we are trying to provide the best services to our patrons with the resources that we possess. And I’m really working hard to figure out how best to do this. Allocation of resources is not an easy task. We all need to make decisions about what we can do – and conversely what we cannot.

Of late, I’ve been spending much more than my allotted time at work – there is never enough time to get everything done. Between working too many hours and trying to do all of my school work, I’ve lost a bit of focus. When this happens, I start to forget about the patron – and just try to stay afloat. Balance is key to this equation. Working a million hours a week isn’t the answer. But then, adding resources that current staff can’t support isn’t the answer either. It is all about the customer – but providing the best service to the customer doesn’t always mean doing everything that the customer wants. We can only work with what we have. I think it is important to push ourselves – however, I’ve been pushing too much lately and that isn’t good. A vacation sounds really good about now!!!!

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