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Work Like A Patron Day 2011

   September 27th, 2011

Working like a patronIn 2008, I announced the first "Work Like A Patron" day - I've been mostly quiet about it since, but David and Jessamyn have both talked about the idea lately, so I thought I'd offer it up again.

The point of Work Like A Patron day is to remind librarians that libraries are for patrons, and it's important to gauge the result of our efforts from their point of view. I know lots of people do this on a daily basis anyway, but for my own benefit it helps to make a special effort to view the library through a patron's eyes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Work Like A Patron day takes place on the Wednesday of the week six months after National Library Week. That was April 10-16, so this year's Work Like A Patron day will be Wednesday, October 12 - that's just two weeks away!

Ideas for Working Like A Patron
I know every library is different, and lots of people routinely do these things, but here are a few things I do to get out from behind the desk and experience the library like a patron:

  • enter and leave the library through the public entrance (not the staff doors)
  • use the public restrooms
  • try doing some work on the public computers
  • call the library's main number and negotiate the phone system
  • reserve public meeting rooms for meetings
  • return your items in the book drop
  • navigate the library's website as if you're not already familiar with it
  • follow all library policies
  • read posted signs to see how helpful they are

Obviously, not everything will be applicable to every library, and not all library staff can do their work away from their desks. The real point of Work Like A Patron day is to just spend some time experiencing the library like a patron, not like a librarian.

Share your Experience
I'm always curious to hear about it, so if you'd like to share what you did on Work Like a Patron day, tweet with the hashtag #wlap or add a link to the Library Success wiki Work Like A Patron page. Or, of course, share in the comments below.




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14 Responses to “Work Like A Patron Day 2011”

  1. Roberta Says:

    I heard a great comment at a library meeting last week that seems bang on: “Librarians like to search, patrons like to find.” I will try to remember that in the future!

  2. Swiss Army Librarian » Work Like A Patron Day 2011 :: Brian Herzog | SocialLibrary | Scoop.it Says:

    […] Swiss Army Librarian » Work Like A Patron Day 2011 :: Brian Herzog […]

  3. Sharon Rowe Says:

    Our staff development workshop is October 11th so guess what we will be discussing!

  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Roberta: I’ve heard that too, and it is so true. I’ve seen interactions where the patron was clearly done searching, but the librarian was still generating new ideas. Ha.

    @Sharon: that’s great – I hope people like it (my staff was skeptical, but willing).

  5. Try Work Like A Patron Day on Oct. 12th @ Library Sparks Says:

    […] by observing Work Like a Patron Day on October 12, 2011.  Proposed by Brian Herzog (the “Swiss Army Librarian“), he says “The point of Work Like A Patron day is to remind librarians that libraries […]

  6. World’s Strangest | At the Libraries: The Men of the Stacks Says:

    […] writers as kids. So cute! * What a great idea, fellow librarians! Next Wednesday is the 4th annual Work Like a Patron Day, where we do our best to use the library the way a patron would, including following all of our […]

  7. At the Libraries: The Men of the Stacks - Cine Sopaipleto » Cine Sopaipleto Says:

    […] writers as kids. So cute! * What a great idea, fellow librarians! Next Wednesday is the 4th annual Work Like a Patron Day, where we do our best to use the library the way a patron would, including following all of our […]

  8. At the Libraries: The Men of the Stacks - Sopaipleto » Sopaipleto Says:

    […] writers as kids. So cute! * What a great idea, fellow librarians! Next Wednesday is the 4th annual Work Like a Patron Day, where we do our best to use the library the way a patron would, including following all of our […]

  9. Swiss Army Librarian » Working Like a Patron, and, Rethinking Reference :: Brian Herzog Says:

    […] door, use the public bathroom, see if the posted signs help you at all, whatever. Check out the Work Like A Patron Day 2011 post for more ideas and how to share your […]

  10. Work Like a Patron Day – Oct 12 « virlibrary Says:

    […] can read the rest of the article here Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  11. Stephanie Willen Brown Says:

    I’m so behind this semester that I didn’t see that yesterday was #wlap day until today. I’m in a small academic branch library, and students usually ask for me by name, and I meed them either in my office or at their workstation in the library.

    This semester I have an office hour once a week in the middle of the main library area. It’s been a good experience — not so much for the business it generates (slim so far), but because it forces me to sit at one of the tables with all the other patrons. I am reminded how uncomfortable our chairs are, but after a while, if you’re working, it’s not so bad. (that’s a relief, because they are SOOO uncomfortable to me – I hate to think of our patrons in such discomfort).

    Otherwise, nothing special — but it is a good exercise in #wlap.

  12. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Stephanie: that’s great, and I agree that spending time regularly in the library is better than just focusing on one day. I try to do it constantly too – and also found that once you get to work, a lot of the things that seem like initial distractions (noise, hard chairs, etc) sort of fade away.

  13. Matthew Says:

    Already do many of these things anyway, but I love the concept. In a community college library, we are often ‘full up’ in the computer lab, but sometimes I have had to use public machines to test student access, ect. Almost ALWAYS use the restrooms everyone else does, as we don’t have a staff restroom in the library. (staff one down the hall is no executive washroom). Are small study rooms ARE a problem – air doesn’t circulate, so if people violate the rules and bring in food, the next group suffers, big time! Always love your posts, Brian!

  14. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Matthew: thank you – and you’re right, doing things like this on a daily basis is the best route. After all, patrons use the library every day, and are probably far more aware of this than we are.