Friday, September 26, 2014

Provocative and practical - ECIS librarians pre conference workshop

First day of the ECIS triennial Librarians' conference at St John's School Waterloo, Belgium. I attended the day long workshop presented by Kevin Hennah, a retail consultant to school and public libraries.

We spent the whole day sitting and listening to him present. There was some discussion but he showed us more than 600 slides and spoke for more than 5 hours. If I get nothing else from this conference (and I know I will) it would have been worthwhile coming for this day alone.

He was provocative. Many times I felt myself squirming in reaction to one of his statements because I realised that my library was not as effective as it could be.

"Librarians are forward thinking. They are early adopters of new things. They do, however, hang on to the old as well."

So I need to adopt the new and discard the old. This applies to books as much as it does to technology. Kevin went on later to say that we should buy a book and get rid of an old book, one in and one out. 

Some of Kevin's ideas about shelving and painting and furnishings will cost money. Something that costs next to nothing is to weed the entire collection ruthlessly and make space for face out displays. Face out displays allow the customers to see the books. Print will sell itself with great covers if the students and staff can see them.  Watch this space for some before and after photos.

Kevin challenged us to think of three big messages we would give our principals when we return home. I am fortunate to have a principal who would have been agreeing with everything Kevin had to say - the three things I know that will make her eyes light up....

1. I want an amazing sign outside our library doors that say "Library" - clean letters, great colour.

2. I want to develop a library brand and learn how to use it effectively across both campuses.

3. I will be asking for some library furniture this budget round - ottomans (very appropriate for Istanbul)  easy chairs and slat boards and perspex for face out displays.

I am very fortunate because I work for a Head of School who has great passion for and understanding of interior design. I understand about the merchandise and together we can work on the visual merchandising of our books. 

I can't wait to get back to school to try out these ideas....

I am tweeting from conference #ECISlib2014 see you tomorrow with the next conference blog post.