Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Back at the coal face


(Sadly, not me.)

Feeling much better now, thanks for your lovely comments, and working overtime at the library again. Sigh. As much as I'd love to turn it down with a languid flap of the hand, I can't. Not with the economy throwing its toys out of the pram every five seconds.

Still, at least I wasn't being asked to assemble a crack team of resistance fighters to rescue a British agent from behind enemy lines using my feminine wiles, before assassinating the head of Nazi counter-intelligence, like Sophie Marceau in the brilliant Female Agents, which I watched at the weekend. Essentially I'm just returning and issuing books. But still.

I've noticed that the library is nowhere near as busy as it was a few years ago. We've been asked to suggest ways to tempt people in, but as I'm sure I've said before I think you're either the sort of person who uses the library or you're not. I'm not convinced wizardry of any kind will entice people in. I did put forward a case for home-made cake and lashings of tea, but that was for me. While I thought about it.

I still haven't come up with an answer.

26 comments:

Debs said...

Crikey, I thought that was a picture of me for a sec. Well me, who's fatter, shorter, blonder... maybe not.

Glad to hear you're feeling much better, and I have to admit that home made cake and lashings of tea would work for me every time.

HelenMHunt said...

Glad you're feeling better. My local library has the odd 'writerly' event - which would draw me in - except that they always seem to have them during the working day when I have to, sadly, work :)

Lane said...

Cake and tea would certainly lure the oldies in. And me:-)

I've noticed my local library getting louder and it drives me mad. And it's not always the kids either:-(

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Sniffles gone? Good. Libraries should be like those Barnes and Noble stores with big comfy chairs and coffee machines! That would entice me in!

Suzanne said...

Glad you're feeling better and great to see you back.

I'm with Helen - writerly events would also entice me (as would chocolate cake).

Jan Jones said...

Ahem - you need an amusing, witty talk from an intelligent, multi-genre writer who isn't averse to lashings of tea and home-made cake.

I'll even bring the cake...

The Dotterel said...

What Jan said - I've been asked to do at reading/signing at my local Waterstones, but the library hasn't either the facilities or policies to do the same, which is a shame. I'd love to be able to support in some way.
http://writingtherapyblog.blogspot.com/

TOM FOOLERY said...

Glad you're on the mend m'dear. I reckon (not sure how mind, not so good on detail)that the library should somehow join forces with the arts. Say, have a space for both books and The Arts - photography (goes without saying) drama, talks, workshops, writing courses etc etc. Obviously with tea and cakes during the intervals. Tommox

Joss Albért said...

You're saying you on the front desk isn't pulling the punters in?! Perhaps some half-moon glasses will make the difference. Advertise the effect in the local paper; 'Library open 9-5, guaranteed service by attractive assistant in half-moons'.

Eek. Maybe just tea and cake to be safe. There must be a way you can link in with book groups, and is there any local magazine/leaflet you can advertise new books or recommended reading in?

Sod it, champagne and canapés - invite the town!

bfs ~ "Mimi" said...

Does your library have a website? Ours does, with tidbits about new books, and an invite to join in a readers' club, read books at the same time, blog about them.

Also in the library is a used-book store, where people can purchase used books for a tiny price. It really seems to pull people in.

JJ said...

I'm not sure I agree with that: you're either the sort of person who uses the library or you're not. I could be lured there. I don't necessarily want to borrow books, but I like the reference. As venues for talks and lectures... yes, count me in.

Queenie said...

Good news on the recovery front, even if it does mean you're back at work. Our library does quite a few evening and weekend events: book sales, arts workshops, performances (music, storytelling etc - for adults and/or children), that kind of thing. They also have bases for agencies that don't have premises in town, e.g. CAB, Connexions, benefits advice and so on. And I think the credit crunch could be very helpful to libraries, as people become more reluctant to spend money on buying books and start using e.g. free online reservation services. Maybe promoting some of those options might help.

Home-made cake and tea would work for me, too.

Fionnuala said...

1. Cake and tea
2. Male strippers
3. Pole dancing
4. Free suavignon blanc
5. Marion Keyes doing a reading
6. Comfy leather sofas like in Borders/Waterstones or wherever it is I've seen them
7. Daniel Craig on returns.

Fx

Jean said...

Chocolate cakes with big dollops of cream on top would do the trick for me.

Thanks for your good wishes on my blog, but see my latest 'tale of woe'.

Lorna F said...

Hi Karen, glad you're feeling better. Libraries - I'd like to be able to visit mine and know there was a decent range of books (you know, those funny things with paper bound between covers), books which are up to date - rather than a predominance of DVDs. Also, silence. Silence is increasingly to readers what dark skies are to astronomers: invaded, inaccessible. Oxford's Central Library is beset with teenagers who think that loud (and I mean LOUD) chats with each other or on the mobile phone are perfectly OK. And you hardly dare protest - it's not as if they've been checked for knives when they came in. If it's not them, it's the dramatic monologue being performed by the paranoid and aromatic down-and-out two chairs down. And don't tell me it's all good material for a writer ...

Anna said...

I just read that libraries here are reporting more visitors with the downturn in the economy....

hmm... well, that's what they were reporting. maybe they're giving away free cake on the sly...

Dumdad said...

If all librarians looked like your photo they'd be queuing to get in (well, the men would anyway).

Honeysuckle said...

I think maybe libraries should charge. Maybe the fact that we can borrow books for free from them suggests that there's no value attached to being able to do it?
I know I'll happily buy used books cheaply in Oxfam or at the writing group I go to (and then I recycle them) but I don't always think to go to the library where I can get them for free. Mad.

Ruby Isabella said...

Take Molly to the library. She'd get the punters in.

Leigh said...

Our village library (no doubt always teetering on the verge of closure) started a tiny-tots singing session once a fortnight, with the library ladies leading. It was an enormous success, and many more mothers now use the library for books too (for themselves and their children), because they got into the habit of going there.

For the purposes of your building up a repertoire, I would willingly let you have my kids' entire CD collection ... on permanent loan. Just say the word.

Ladybird World Mother said...

I love libraries! but tea and cake would be a Very Good Idea Indeed.

wordtryst said...

I'm sure that's bad news for the libraries but for patrons who like peace and hollow, echoing silence it's perfect. Oops, how selfish of me. Maybe it's a reaction to the library experience in my town: tiny space, always crammed with students who refuse to shush.

Annieye said...

Pleased you are feeling better now Karen.

I do use my local library and it is just a mere few steps away from my office, which is rather handy.

Younger members of staff in my office always say they'd sooner buy new paperbacks to read because 'you never know who's had their grubby hands on the books in the library'

(I don't know - whatever next!)

KAREN said...

debs - It could be you, with dark hair :o) I'm trying not to think of home-made cake today...

helenmh - We do have the odd writerly event...very odd, usually! Sadly, the writer in question generally needs to be paid, and that's where a lack of funds comes in :o(

lane - There'd probably be some sort of health and safety issue that would prevent it happening! I'm with you on the 'loudness.' Can't hear yourself think sometimes, but you're not allowed to shush anyone any more :oO

mob - We've just had a comfy, black leather sofa installed, up in the Study Centre, which is very popular. We just need one in the actual library now...

suzanne - Writerly events and cake go hand in hand really. Bring it on!

jan jones - Ooh, I'll pass that on! Especially if you're prepared to bring cake :o)

the dotterel - We've had a couple of authors come and give a talk, but no signings as such...food for thought though :o)

tommo - Do you know, we used to put up local artwork and photography, which customers could look at and even buy, but we're not allowed to any more :o(

joss albert - I LOVE the attractive assistants in half-moons idea :o)) Sadly, the reality would cause a riot... We do run a few book groups though!

bfs - We DO have a nice new website, but in terms of getting new customers through the doors so we can let them know...actually advertising in the local paper might not be a bad idea!

jj - That's what we need to concentrate on - luring, and more luring :o)

qwerty queen - Amazingly, we have all those things already. You'd think it would be enough! Maybe the local paper needs to do a 'piece' about our services to let the public know :o)

fionnuala - I LOVE your thinking :o) Might finish off a few of the oldies though...

jean - It would have to be buttercream though, as I don't like fresh. Naturally, I'm thinking of myself here. Sod the customers :o)

lorna f - Last Thursday there was a man having a loud conversation on his mobile that the whole library could hear - you could even hear the person at the other end talking. We used to be able to send people outside to do that, but not any more :o(

anna - That's a good point, and maybe it will filter through gradually. Not that we want the downturn in economy to continue, obviously!

dumdad - Maybe we should employ someone like that, to stand at the door and lure people (men) in. Then another one, possible with more cleavage on display, to persuade them (men) to borrow LOTS of books. And a couple of fit blokes for the women, obviously :o)

honeysuckle - I think a lot of people (my friend for instance) don't like the books having 'dirty' jackets on, even if they are free, although we do try our best to keep them clean!

ruby isabella - Brilliant idea! How could they resist :o)

leigh - We do have a 'bounce and rhyme' session every week - I go home with all the blinkin' songs going round in my head! Er, you can keep the CD, but thanks for offering :o)

ladybird mother - Personally, I think all establishments should have tea and cake on offer!

wordtryst - It's surprising how many customers do say they preferred the library when it was quieter. I have to agree at times!

annieye - Yes, my friend feels like that, especially as books are cheap to buy these days. She says it puts her off, wondering where library books have been!

Alis said...

Hi Karen. Glad you're feeling better. Hopefully won't set you back if I say I am giving you an award! You can catch up with it and all its little details over on my blog if/when you have time...

KAREN said...

Ooh, thanks Alis! I'm definitely feeling better now :o)