I just finished a gig working for the illustrious Gay Ducey, who, in addition to being a highly acclaimed storyteller, manages a small branch library. Ducey has what I consider to be the perfect background for a public librarian; she is from the South, she has a background in theater and storytelling, and she was a social worker for a little while, before moving to libraries.
When people come into the branch, Ducey will often lean her elbows on the counter and say, “How you doin’?” in that particular way Southern women have of opening a conversation. And here’s the thing, she’s interested in the response. She’s attentive to stories of ailments, triumphs, grandbabies, and heartfelt philosophical treatises. And she’ll remember this person, and their conversation, the next time they come in. Ducey knows the names of all the regulars. Not because she’s got a particular knack for names, but because she makes it a point to learn them.
To grow a library community, you must cultivate people. You must get to know your patrons. In library school, we learned about environmental scans, and patron surveys. These tools are useful. If you want to get to know your community, the numbers help.
But when Gay Ducey wants to know what books to purchase for her patrons, she asks them.
That personal touch is worth any number of reports. This interaction is what’s really driving the library