Circulating Cheer

Kevin King —  October 30, 2013 — 2 Comments

Efficiency has been a very hot topic at my library for the past year.  Staff have been constantly applying LEAN tactics to free up resources to allow for more time to address an increasing workload.  Recently we are experimenting with requiring patrons to use our self-check machines for simple check outs, leaving the circulation desk for more involved transactions like new registrations and account issues.  The challenge is to continuously seek out efficiencies without abandoning meaningful and heartfelt patron interactions.

A recent study by Gillian M. Sandstrom and Elizabeth W. Dunn of the University of British Columbia concluded that customers buying coffee and interacted with the barista (eye contact, smiled, brief conversation, etc.) actually arrive at their next destination in a better much mood than those who do not.  Customers that set aside efficiency in their commercial interactions in favor of striking up a conversation with the employee leave the building filled with more cheer than when they arrived.  The results of the study also suggest that even though people are often fearful of having social interactions with strangers, they are much happier when they make the attempt.

Library staff should be circulating cheer by encouraging positive interactions with patrons.  Do you greet every person who comes into your building?  Are you encouraging other materials based on the patron’s current stack?  Smile often?  These are just a few easy tactics that can be utilized to strike up a conversation with a patron anywhere in the library.  If we are providing patrons with an opportunity to interact with us, we are circulating cheer that goes beyond our doors.  Do not forget that circulating cheer should always take precedence over efficiency.  The idea is to be present for the patron, which will hopefully spark them to interact and improve their mood!

No matter what size of library, we should be striving to be the place “where everybody knows your name.”  The your library will be know for circulating great materials and cheer!

Kevin King


Kevin King is the Head of Branch and Circulation Services at the Kalamazoo (MI) Public Library. Previously Kevin led Teen Services at KPL, where he helped build a nationally recognized program. Kevin has presented all over the country on many topics including teen services, innovation, graphic novels, and programming. As a member of ALA, YALSA, PLA and the Michigan Library Association, Kevin has served on various committees and has luckily won a couple of awards. In his spare time Kevin obsesses over the Detroit Tigers, listens to music and does his best to be a kick ass dad to Abigail and Rachael.

2 responses to Circulating Cheer


    That’s my favorite part of working in a small branch. We have a self-check machine, but it’s there as an option, not a requirement. Most patrons prefer a face-to-face interaction, and we are there to give it to them. I’d rather eliminate other aspects of the jobs my staff do before limiting the amount of time they have to interact with patrons. Good customer service needs to trump everything else!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Robots Doing Library Work: Sustaining Human Connections in the Age of Self-Service « Library Lost & Found - December 11, 2015

    […] the machines. Machines can take money and even check in books, but they can’t tell someone to have a nice day with kind eyes and a genuine voice. That’s a job for a human […]

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