Many years ago I was a young manager sitting in a meeting of other managers. We were discussing various issues and one primary topic was the random and odd requests from patrons. Those in public libraries will smile a little and perhaps chuckle…you know what I mean. The conversation had taken a turn that was a bit…synical. “I get so tired of it.” “No you can’t hold a meeting in the silent room tomorrow night!” “Why do people keep asking for special treatment?!” Our Director very thoughtfully said “I wish it was harder for all of you to say NO than YES.” And she left the room.
That has never left me. I have framed much of my management and customer service philosophy around the concept of saying Yes. Embracing the unusual suggestion. Fostering the reality that the Library belongs to our patrons and community. We are here to manage, improve, facilitate, guide and more. Unfortunately, too often we translate that to a sense of ownership and control that often manifests in a proclivity to say NO to the unusual or out of the ordinary. But we are smart folks! And we know that the unusual and new, while scary, is also where brilliant things occur!
I came across a TED Talk the other day that reminded me of this. It is worth the 11 minutes!
Pam Sandlian Smith, Director of Anythink Libraries in Colorado presents a wonderful talk about what happens when we say YES!!