When I got my new job at HPL, people kept saying, “I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do.”
It’s been two months, and I’m ready to report. What I did was get HPL a new suggestion box:
Wait, no, I mean:
I bought the box, but Vicki created the suggestion forms. Previously what we had was a sheet of paper with a lot of text on it and small lines, copies of which we kept in a file at the Reference Desk. I decided I wanted something a little more short and sweet that would be more visible. I also liked the idea of having something we could move around easily.
So far, since I put the new box out, I’ve gotten one suggestion, and it was unsigned, so I couldn’t even write the person a response, which was a bummer.
So the new suggestion box looks good, but it’s maybe not a smashing success. I think I’m going to try moving it back into the magazine area and see what happens then. People hang out back there.
Between this and the Real Suggestions from the Children’s Room, you’d think my goal in life was to flit about from library to library, making sure suggestion boxes were attractive and well-marked, and I guess that’s kind of true. I do think it’s important for libraries to have functional mechanisms for patrons and staff to communicate with each other, and suggestion boxes and forms that look sad make me sad.
However, my real goal in life is to eliminate golf pencils.
I thought I’d written a diatribe about golf pencils here on watat, but apparently I just did that on Facebook when I got rid of them in the Children’s Room at WPL years ago. The thing about golf pencils is that they’re an institution’s little way of saying, “I hate you so much that I’m going to give you a pencil that’s difficult to hold, has no eraser, and has no point.”
Let me do some math for you.
A going rate for golf pencils is about 6 cents/pencil. These full-sized pencils cost 8 cents/pencil, so for just 2 more cents, you get a pencil that’s twice the size of a golf pencil and, as a bonus, has an eraser and the ability to hold a point. If you shop back-to-school sales, you can get full-sized pencils much, much less expensively. You can even get fun ones with kittens on them or whatever. These customizable pencils from Oriental Trading cost 18 cents/pencil and can have your library’s name on it, and then when people take them away, they’re advertising your library, which is an all sides win.
I think pencils are a good investment. I want to give patrons something pleasant to write with. That way, when they’re filling out the suggestion forms, they aren’t hating me for giving them something crappy to write with. A decent writing implement encourages patrons to do things like write down call numbers and give finding something themselves a try. Writing is such an important part of learning, and we’re all about learning in libraries.
And also, isn’t it a comfort to find something to write with when you want to write something down?
So there it is. A suggestion box. Sharp pencils with erasers.
I have some other plots in development, but this is a start.