PLA Moving on from Dewey in 10 Steps

Moving on From Dewey with Debbie Walker and Diane Macklin.  The public library in Markham, Ontario, Canada changed from Dewey to C-3, “Customer Centered Classification” and discussed how that unleashed transformations and innovations throughout the library.  Important stat: Their turnover rate is 6.0 – that’s huge and means people are finding and checking out more of their collection.

Steps:

  1. Know with it’s over – they realized that the book warehouse model was dying.  Library competition from bookstores (back in 2007 when they made this decision), coffeeshops, and even pet stores were doing storytime.  Desire to merchandize and use subject categories.  Dewey jumps around – for example “Fixing up your back yard” covers 5 different ranges. 80% of Library users are browsing and Dewey was designed for closed stacks.  The library looked at BISAC bookstore categories – and figure they have LOTS of Market Research behind them.
  2. Learn from the Competition – Think like a business and like a customer.  The General public has NO CLUE about Dewey. New Americans may not even have public libraries, let alone understand Dewey. People want self-service and convenience.
  3. Think Like a Customer – create a library that is easy, convenient and ‘findable’.  C-3 is word-based with a 4-digit number code based on customer-friendly subject categories.  Feedback – it was so intuitive, many didn’t realize they’d made a change.
  4. Learn About Risky Behavior – They had a very short timeline during a renovation and created the system in 6 weeks.
  5. Think Lean – start small, but think big
  6. Engage Staff – “Dewey meets merchandising”.  Had many debates, such as how to categorize dogs – an animal, so in Science and Nature or Family, so in Lifestyle & Family?  Family won.  Received positive feedback from staff – looked nicer and was more efficient for shelvers and staff pulling the pick list.
  7. Let Go of Perfectionism – Trial and error to get the system right. Used temporary spine labels to allow for re-categorization.
  8. Expect the Unexpected – Didn’t realize how much easier and more efficient the new system would be for materials handling.  Sorting, shelving and locating materials easier for patrons and staff.  Improved the NF turnover rate.
  9. Nourish the culture of Innovation – Foster creativity.  Find better solutions to problems. Encourage divergent thinking. Make it a Creative Library – game playing at staff meetings, stand up meetings where you walk and talk to encourage ‘outside the box’ thinking and problem solving.  “Fail Camp” initiative – encourages staff to try new ideas with support and without penalty.  Encourages risk-taking.
  10. Springboard to Future Innovation – Not stopping with C3 – using it to spark new ideas.  Such as…

Learning Place Model – Revamped and streamlined programming.  Looked at the old, labor-intensive model and realized there was MUCH competition in the community and overlap.  The Rec center, bookstores, and schools were offering similar programming as the library.  Decided to ‘start with the end in mind’ and focus programming on their Core Purpose – Literacy and Technology.  All programming delivers the library’s message.  Some programs are fee-based and every program has documented outcomes, even lap-sit storytime.  Value: incorporate all learning styles, offer programming that complements the classroom. Examples: Public Speaking, Creative Writing.  Use unemployed new teachers to deliver consistent programming across the system.

Customer Service Revolution – Started with ‘good’ customer service but wanted to improve.  Asked, “Do you make things easy for your customers or your self?”  They Questioned Everything.  For example, 5:00 closing time stressed out staff, who pushed patrons out the door.  They adjusted some staff so their shift ended at 5:15, removing that stress and providing a better experience for customers.
Asked – “What do your rules say about you?”  Discovered in questioning everything that may rules were old, they confused patrons or made no sense to the large immigrant population who uses their system.  Changed code of conduct into “Customer Promise”  We Will Work Together for a Positive Experience.  Promise made by both staff and patrons – expectations.
Staff talked about great customer service experiences and themes emerged:

  • Personal
  • Attentive
  • Friendly
  • Approachable

Wanted to provide seamless service from beginning to end.

Create the Experience + Build the Relationships + Exceed the Expectations = Excellent Service

Q&A:

  • Bookstores had the market research, so they felt comfortable using BISAC model.
  • Children’s NF included child-friendly category names and additional categories like “Dinosaurs” and “Fairy Tales.”
  • Size of the collection required a word and number system. Also found that immigrant population were better served by including some numbers. Also have category signs over the stacks with pictures and ‘shelf talkers’ or descriptions on the shelves themselves to help browsing.
  • Can be used with linear shelving, but works better with mobile shelving to allow clustering and flexibility.

 

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