Would You Like Fries With That Checkout?

In watching the ever brilliant Sir Ken Robinson’s most recent TED talk (seriously, read this post and then go watch it above, or vice versa), I thought of one question to ask my professional peers in libraryland:

Are you a fast food or Zagat/Michelin type of library?

Fast food is structured around standardization; the ability to create a reliable product quickly and efficiently. There are policies, there are rules, and there are no exemptions. It is about getting a product to a patron; they can take it or leave it.

A Zagat or Michelin restaurant is made around the local tastes and influences; in essence, a local experience. These are places where chefs create meals that resonate with the local populations, tailored and customized to the local flavors and traditions. It is about a personal product crafted to the person; it is made for them.

People can easily find a standard product for books, movies, magazines, and music in other places: it’s called a bookstore. Why on Earth would libraries attempt to recreate such a standard presentation and product? Is it the difference between doing what it easy and doing what is good?

So, I ask again: are you a fast food or Zagat/Michelin type of library?

6 thoughts on “Would You Like Fries With That Checkout?

  1. (First of all, I don’t agree with his notion that we can get to a point where most people enjoy their jobs. We still need all kinds of boring and unpleasant jobs done, jobs that nobody’s going to be excited doing. I don’t think anyone should be made to feel wrong by taking a job because it’s a job.)

    As for whether I want our library to be a fancy restaurant or fast food… I want our library to be a grocery store with built-in nutritionists and cooking school.

    • Yes, I guess there is a third alternative or you can come up with your own metaphor. What would be the opposite of the cooking school and built-in nutritionists, if I might ask?

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Would You Like Fries With That Checkout? « Agnostic, Maybe -- Topsy.com

  3. I’m striving to be more of the librarian that focuses in on the community and achieves success by creating a relationship strong enough so that they trust the library to help spread their ideas to the outside. I think there will be parts of standardization mixed in in the form of the antiquated library system.

    As for Sir Ken Robinson, I’ve watched this video 4 times and the previous one 10. I think he is one of the best presenters I have seen, an incredibly intelligent man with remarkable vision, and I thank you for posting this for others to view.

    • Of course, there is a core element. It’s not anarchy. But it’s the tailoring that appealed to me. That’s what made me sit up and take notice. I believe you can have a functional core with personalized overlayer that makes the most sense to people around the community being served.

      • Do you believe that the most difficult part to do a custom/personal service model would be the transition (from standard to custom) or to maintain it for an extended period of time? The “time” aspect is what would concern me the most.

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