Let me digress for a moment. The third place is a concept of providing a place to socialize in these times of human non-interaction. The third place is not home or work/school. It is a third place to relax, refresh, rejuvenate and socialize.
There are three elements to establishing the third place in your library – whether for teens or all other patrons, these are:
In today’s blog, I’ll cover the first element. The psychological element means to be welcoming, to greet your stakeholders, connect with them, discover their needs, respond to those needs and thank them for coming.
Greet – You should make the effort to remember as many names as possible of your patrons and greet them by name – if you don’t know their names, you should still at least greet them warmly and sincerely into your library. Learning names is easy, you look at their name when you check them out. and it is quite all right to ask a person their name when they approach you for information.
Connect – Make it a point to learn something about as many patrons as you can! I happen to notice jewelry, having grown up around artists and having friends who make jewelry. I also try to remember the genres they read, t-shirts (how much fun are t-shirts?), hats. Connecting is making small talk. This helps you create rapport and a relationship, that may last for years. Just like It’s a Wonderful Life, we sometimes never know how many lives we touch – make it a point to touch as many as you can as positively as you can!
Discover – Why are they in the library? The discovery aspect is your reference interview. Ask questions, discover what your patron needs or wants. When asking reference questions it is my experience that you should re-state questions and clarify as much as possible. This saves time in the long run, and creates a better customer service experience.
Respond – Aha! You’ve found out what they need, now you respond by fulfilling that need. Woot! You rock, the patron is happy, and your job is satisfying! You have also kept the Librarian Mystique alive (of course we know the answer – we are librarians!)
Thank – Please don’t forget this very important step! Thank them for coming in and encourage them to return. This helps strengthen the bond between the two of you, and results in improved circulation of materials.
Think of the third place as that place “where everybody knows your name.” The third place principle is practiced by coffee shops, taverns and restaurants. I consider it an easy way to provide excellent customer service and have fun while doing it!
I know not everyone is comfortable making small talk, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes, and the more comfortable you become! It is an ever upward spiral of happiness (you can practically see the little cartoon bluebirds soaring around and up can’t you?)! “Try It, You’ll Like It!”
Next time – The Second Element!