New Library Directors Handbook

Library’s Image

What do people see when they go to your library? What do both users and non-users think of the library? Developing a positive image and creating a warm, welcoming place is important. If you don't have either of these then you can work on your publicity, programming, etc., but it won't make any difference. If people perceive the library in a negative light, nothing you do will bring them into the library.

So how can you develop a positive image and make the library inviting? One of the best ways is free! Library staff must practice excellent customer service skills. An inviting smile, a greeting when customers come in the door can make a huge difference in how people perceive the library. Don't forget the telephone. Be sure you and other staff members are always courteous on the phone. Customers who call deserve the same professional and positive experience as those who walk in the door.

Make sure library staff receive training in customer service and the various library departments. It is important for staff to understand the basics of every department in the library. Someone working in circulation can then explain the process of adding a new book to a questioning customer. Having this basic knowledge can make your staff feel more confident and appear more professional and competent to your customers. The best form of advertising is word-of-mouth from satisfied customers to others.

Once you and your library staff have created a welcoming service environment, take a look at your library. Are there directional signs that make it easy for people to find what they are looking for? Does the library look neat and clean? Is it comfortable? Think of places you have been that have made you feel welcome and if possible incorporate those ideas into your library. Bright colors, simple directions, comfortable surroundings, simplicity, and a willingness by staff to serve with a smile will give your library a positive image.

For many of us, marketing and publicity is the same thing, but marketing has some components that publicity doesn't have. What we are referring to is using newspapers, radio stations and other techniques to inform people about the library.