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

Reference Question of the Week – 11/27/11

   December 3rd, 2011

Cultural Road Show logoThis week's question made me laugh, and then made me think - and I wasn't the only one.

One of the programs going on at my library right now is something call the "Cultural Road Show." The idea behind it is to increase awareness of the museums and other cultural organizations in the community, by having one of them come to the library each month and give a program on their group/collection.

Essentially, get the museums to get a small exhibit "on the road" and bring it to the library (one nice side effect is that it also promotes our museum passes). We're using the bus image to reenforce the "road trip" theme, and also are scanning people's library cards as they enter (sort of like an EZPass going through a toll booth) which enters people into drawing for prizes from the museums.

Our Community/Programming Librarian has been doing a good job of organizing and promoting it, and the first few road shows have been pretty well-attended.

But this week, a patron walked up to the circulation desk and said:

I saw signs for this Cultural Road Show - what time does the bus get here, and do you have a schedule of all the places where we'll be stopping?

Of course, obvious and honest misunderstandings like this are humorous, mainly because this approach never even occurred to anyone on the staff - and we all had a good laugh.

But then we all thought, why not plan a road trip for patrons to actually visit museums? Just because the idea didn't originate with a staff person doesn't mean we can't do it. We need to look into the feasibility of that kind of program, but we all liked the sound of it.

It reminded me of Jessamyn's recent post about the trend in library programs to do new things - sometimes, the best way to come up with new ideas is to ask patrons.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

3 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 11/27/11”

  1. Kari Says:

    While it doesn’t have the actual bus tour, our library enjoys a partnership with several local museums and patrons are allowed to check out week-long passes to our art museum, glass museum and children’s museum.

  2. Noreen Says:

    Our Reader’s Services librarian has had great success with road trips to bookstores, museums and plays. Our Friends group helps out with money for snacks and drinks. Participants pay a fee (discounted for Friends’ members) that helps cover the cost of renting a motorcoach and any tickets/entry fees. They’ve been very popular, with lots of repeat customers!

  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Kari: our museum passes are just for a single day – I bet people love a week-long pass

    @Noreen: the first roadblock that sprang to my mind is insurance – how do you guys handle that?