Daily Archives: September 13, 2012

How Casual is Too Casual?

During Apple’s recent announcement of its new iPhone 5, this picture of the Senior VP of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller was snapped. His shirt tail outside of his pants is obvious, but it also appears he is wearing bluejeans.

OK, is it just me, or does anyone else think there is something not quite right with this picture? The Senior VP of Worldwide Product Marketing for one of the biggest businesses in the world, WANTS to project the image of ULTRA CASUAL – I’m a 20-something Dude ready to go clubing? Neck-tie? No way! Maybe the fact that his sleeves are rolled down and buttoned is a statement that his ultra casual appearance only goes so far? And, the fact that his button-down collar shirt is nicely pressed is also a statement that ultra casual has standards?

So what? So what does the staff attire at your library communicate to your customers about your library?

My good friend library director recently adopted uniforms for her urban library staff. It was the result of frequent issues with staff concerning their appearance, and her desire to communicate a more professional image of her library to her community.

It was somewhat of an ordeal to adopt the appropriate “look” by selecting the specific style of clothing – tops and bottoms – to create that “look.” The expense was acceptable considering the goal. How much is too much expense for library advertising? It also takes a talent for clothing style that not just everybody has, so I suggest that you don’t try this if you’ve never been complimented on your own appearance. What is totally critical in this decision to adopt “uniforms” – if one must call it that – is knowing your staff and your organization’s culture. Some organizations and leaders can make the change successfully and beneficially, while others will fail miserably.

I searched for comments regarding uniforms in libraries and found very few ‘constructive’ opinions on the topic.

*I think that if we are moving to roving reference, there needs to be an easy way for patrons to identify staff. I know we can go and ask people if they need assistance, but how often does that bug you about retail shopping?

*One of the reasons that the issue of uniforms were raised was for easy identification of staff. As we settle into our implementation of RFID and move away from the circulation/information desks where our location is our identification, this could be a good reason to reconsider.

*Uniforms can be a symbol of authority, but it’s more about presenting a distinguishing appearance for my library. Our uniforms are really nice looking and everyone feels they look nice as well as all looking alike. It’s not a bad thing for our staff.

It’s not for every library, but just how casual is your library environment, and is that the message you want to communicate to your community?

Here’s a video of some really sharp uniforms.


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