Discounts on 20+ and 30+ places on any course
Playing your part in the library welcome
A fast, practical and enjoyable course in active customer-care skills, specific to libraries. This course will help everyone who works in a customer-facing role develop the skills and confidence to take responsibility for customer engagement - and not just sit behind a welcome desk. Suitable for both public and academic libraries.
The learner completes self-assessment exercises online and posts contributions to the discussion board which is mediated by Opening the Book.
Week 1: The Welcome
|What you will be doing|
|Your role in the library|
|Making a difference|
Week 2: The Wow Factor
|Making the most of your library|
|The space worth thousands|
|Create a showcase|
|Picking books for a showcase|
|Rapid display skills|
Week 3: The Workaday
|Bringing the library alive|
|Offering helpful information|
|What is merchandising?|
|Merchandising coffee table books|
Week 4: The Win
|Build a routine|
|It’s a win|
Opening the Book courses can play a key part in staff inductions and appraisals. Many library services are building Opening the Book courses into their training strategy across the whole service. Typically a service buys a pyramid of places – 50 Entry level, 25 Intermediate and 5 Advanced. Services from London to Kampala have adapted numbers to fit their specific needs. In another model, libraries in North Wales combined together to run a shared programme with regional funding.
Below are three examples of how libraries are building Opening the Book courses into their strategic planning.
Cathryn Ferencz, Executive Manager, Library Services & Customer Experience, Geelong, Australia
With 50 places, we have trained up our Branch Librarians and are now moving on to our library officers. All new staff undertake Playing your part in the library welcome as part of their induction and feedback to date has been that the course is well received and easy to manage. We appreciate having three administrators able to see the Dashboard as they all play a different role in our training. One of our senior managers has now embarked on The reader-centred professional course.
Isabel Millward, Community Librarian- Services, Selwyn District Council, New Zealand
We are a small library service with four libraries and one mobile library. We are staffed with four community librarians who are full time and each branch has four part-time customer service officers. We are located in two urban centres and two rural centres, which very much influences the staff we can attract to roles in each library.
Our first take up of the Entry-level course was a trial, to see where it was pitched, and now we are moving forward with offering this to staff who are new to libraries or have less than two years’ experience working in a library.
The Intermediate courses are offered to staff with some working experience, and they are allowed to choose the module the wish to study – however initially their community librarian will be looking for a good spread of the courses for their team – but we plan on having staff complete all modules eventually. One of our community librarians is going to take the Advanced level course if she can get time.
Because our staff are part time (no-one is more than 20 hours per week), and also quite busy at work, we have some criteria for undertaking both the Entry level and Intermediate course. The courses should be accommodated in ‘work time’ and staff can use 1.5 hours per month of allocated training time if they are not managing to get meaningful periods of time to follow the course. The staff manage this themselves; managers don’t get involved in rostering any of this.
We have allocated a deadline of 6 months for completion of Entry and Intermediate courses. This is largely to accommodate the busy period of library work combined with annual public holidays, staff leave etc. To date, staff have completed modules in 2-3 months.
We have built the Opening the Book courses into our induction programme so that as we set goals for new staff this becomes part of our 3-6 month objectives, but we haven’t as yet picked up on the assessment support area of the courses or included them in staff appraisals.
Staff have been keen to do these courses, so no need to motivate – I think staff like these courses as they are an effective alternative to formal qualifications, which take a long time and are expensive for individuals (even when the library will pay 50% of fees on successful completion of a paper) – the library pays all the costs for Opening the Book!
We are currently part way through a period of intense transformation of our library service – but what I see as the impact of Opening the Book courses is that staff start to ‘get’ what we are trying to achieve, (for example, supporting our systems and processes for appraisal and discards, first impressions count, displays that increase circulation) and they support those goals and can move towards the new services and service delivery models more comfortably.
Annabelle Mugge – Customer Experience Officer, Walkerville Library, Adelaide, Australia
Recently we have moved to Shared Services with Council administration staff which means new staff do not necessarily have library qualifications such as the longer term employees. This causes me concern, but a course like this can give employees with no library background a bit of an idea on what we are trying to achieve. It creates food for thought, especially for people new to the job.
I have learned a great deal from this course, especially the value of good displays and marketing your stock to attract borrowers to items they might not normally borrow or were aware of. My awareness of this has been increased and wherever I am placed on cover, I apply these methods. My aim to provide a better variety of stock in displays and choose carefully what to include and not go straight for the obvious author.
One thing I've learned - or rather, been reminded of and given tips on how to implement - is the central importance of creating a certain impression on library users as they come through the door and move around in the library space. A quick glance and smile sets the tone, and can make the difference between someone feeling able to come and ask a question, and leaving without getting what they wanted from coming to the library. It's an empowering and motivating way to approach our work.
The most useful thing I have learnt is the importance of displays, how they are displayed and what they are displaying. I've seen many more books coming off the display since the gaps were filled up and some interesting, but not subject-specific, books were put up. The underused fiction section also looks much friendlier than a random row of books now that it has some colourful ones facing out. Now just to keep it all up.
The training showed the best way to present books to our visitors, something which I have always struggled to do before. It gives good guidelines and advice. I was always bit nervous when asked to fill up stock and to re-work the displays but not now.
Doing this course has snowballed as other staff and our volunteers joined in the display experiments with great enthusiasm! We did achieve very interesting results in particular from using colour and contrasts in book covers. The challenge now is to narrow it all down to what works for our library and then to keep up the good work. I did a brief presentation at our recent district staff meeting to share what I have learned from this course, in particular that it is little everyday things you can do that will make a big difference in how visitors experience the library. I have really enjoyed the course and wish everyone else good luck with the work in their libraries.
What has struck me most through the weeks is that we should look at the library through the eyes of the customers. This made me change several things that I had not been aware of before. Also the importance of grabbing customers’ attention through use of displays is very important. Less is more has made a big impact on me and I have decluttered some parts of the library and can now see how a few books displayed can be much more appealing than a too many books which can overload the customer.
When I started this course I thought I had a well-run library with well utilised stock.
From the first lesson I realised how mistaken I was!!
I decluttered and refocused my approach to displays and stock.
I have removed myself from the barrier that the desk had become - and would like to think I am becoming like one with the user.
Thanks to everyone for all of their help and for teaching me new ways to promote our library's books and services.
I have seen that the techniques on this course work. The public and my workmates like the displays and issues of displayed stock have increased. The stock looks more appealing, it has highlighted the other areas that could do with jazzing up. I feel more confident about suggesting displays to my supervisors and I know it will make me think harder about our stock.
Space is always an issue, our display areas are limited, so we could try and re-think our shelving arrangements so that they don't seem like barriers. Our entrance area leads straight to our issue pods so we must make other areas seem spacious by not cluttering things up. Pare down notices, streamline our posters and keep everything simple and fresh.
Over the duration of this course, I think what has stood out most is the importance of varying the colour of the book covers in the displays and leaving fewer gaps around books. This has much improved the appearance of our book displays and made them more attractive to customers. I also am now always on the lookout for areas of clutter. I think decluttering in libraries probably needs to be an ongoing process.
I think the main thing I have benefited from is feeling braver with my choices for the displays. As we are single manned I have probably kept the displays as very simple, having had nobody to bounce ideas off, and it has been wonderful to see how others have tackled the ideas given to the tasks.
I've enjoyed trying new things within the library, some ideas I've been able to keep and others not. The changes I did with the Young adult area of making the book shelves all look different, moving the books around looks great. Issues have increased and the youth love it that their area is different and not the same as everywhere else. I enjoy walking past a display and changing over books that have been there too long and seeing the new ones going out the door.
This has been a really interesting and fun course. The main thing I learnt was how to showcase and display our stock to its greatest advantage. We have a lot of quite full shelves, and we've never really done much with them. As soon as I put books face on in a very underused section, it got looked at, and after a busy Saturday had been decimated! Which is really positive and gave us the enthusiasm to do more of this elsewhere in the library. I found looking at different book covers closely and being very selective of title choice really interesting too. I recognise that in the past I may not have made the best choices in books. All round a great course, very enjoyable and beneficial.
Although I have worked in libraries for many years and feel confident greeting and helping customers, doing the course has been a really useful experience, enabling me to take a fresh look at how I work and sharing my ideas with my colleagues. I now try and structure some time every day I am at work to ensure displays are looking great - hopefully generating issues! I keep a list of what topics we've used (and if they've worked or not!) also any ideas for future displays.
I've learned lots of useful tips and shared from the experience and ideas of my learner colleagues. I'd like to thank Opening the Book for a stimulating and practical course.
I have picked up a lot of tips and ideas from the course and will be using them over the next months to make the library space more exciting. I have de-cluttered some of the areas and this has made a big difference. We are hoping to make more room on the shelves to show off our collections better.
The biggest takeaway I have from the course is the importance of being customer-focused - from acknowledging people with a smile, to linking people with library services to arranging the physical space with an eye to what the customer sees when they enter.
One difference I’ve noticed in our libraries since the course was completed by colleagues and myself is the physical appeal of the space. I am noticing much more eye-catching books on display, and these are placed appropriately for people entering the library. I hope this leads to more reading and enjoyment of a wide range of literature by our customers.
This has been a very informative and thought-provoking course. I am seeing the Library space with sharper eyes now!
The display stands down at Kaiapoi Library have been well received, with books going off regularly and people browsing through them. With non-fiction located upstairs, we have been able to highlight the variety of books on offer that the customer may not have been aware of. It is important for the areas to be clear of clutter and with good signage.