or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Innovation In Queueing

   March 26th, 2009 Brian Herzog

I was shopping with a friend in the L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine, and ended up in a check-out line.

It was a nice Saturday afternoon, the store was crowded, and the lines at the registers were long. But L.L. Bean is one of those companies that is totally focused on customer service, and they were doing something I've never seen before (granted, I don't get out much, and I avoid shopping whenever possible, but still, this was cool).

In addition to the cashiers at the registers, there was also another employee walking up and down the check-out line with a portable scanner and barcode printer. He scanned each item a customer had, and then printed out a receipt with a barcode. When the customer got to the cash register, the cashier just scanned that one barcode, instead of fiddling around scanning each item's barcode.

It was amazing how much faster the line moved, and I got to wondering if something like this could be employed in libraries.

Of course, many staff and patrons enjoy the informal small talk while the books are being checked out, and this would all but eliminate that. And self-check machines are there for patrons who are in a hurry. But still, I was impressed with the way L.L. Bean identified and launched such a simple service that had such a large and positive impact on the shopping experience.

Maybe we could at least get the moms with the foot-tall stack of picture books to pre-scan their items before they get to the Circulation Desk.

Tags: , , , , , , ,