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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

That Time When A "The Book Vs The Media Adaptation” Post Turned Into A Rant About Improving Patron Experience

One of the oldest arguments in our world revolves around which is better-- the book or the movie [or tv show].

Adaptations are never perfect. Some are good, some just okay, and others truly horrible. But here’s the thing, people never do NOT have an opinion about an adaptation, especially if they love the book.

Normally I fall on the, “book is always better than the movie” side, but that is not 100% true. If I LOVE a book I rarely go see the movie. I usually still like the book better, but what if I don’t? I would just rather not know and/or not ruin my vision of the book from inside my own head.

Now, if I don’t like a book or don’t have an option either way, I have no problem seeing the movie or watching the TV show. Game of Thrones is an excellent example. I loved the story the books were telling, but long, epic fantasy isn’t my thing in print. On TV, however, I am a happy camper.

Books into Movies or TV has also long been a fun, popular, and easy display idea in libraries. It’s attention grabbing and easy to connect to current adaptations. It is also an easy way to remind our patrons that we have and care about our media collections. But, rarely do we take sides on the issue in public. Or sure in the staff room or with friends we will go on and on comparing the same story in its different formats, but in our work....not really.

I am not sure why we don’t. This would be a great and inviting conversation starter with patrons. A way to make us seem less scary. A way to connect. A way to encourage patrons to begin an interaction with us. Also, it’s just plain old fashioned, good fun.

Here are two great examples of ways you can spice up your popular, but tired, books to movie displays. Book Riot’s recent post, “13 Movies That Are Better Than the Book.” or my favorite, LitReactors “Books Vs Film” reviews. Those reviews are fun to read and have inspired me to go back to the originals.

So how can you use these in your work. Well first, you can post them on social media and your website to promote your collections and get people to come in and judge these opinions for themselves. Second, you can use either to set up an in-library or online battle/poll to see if people agree or disagree. And third, fourth, and fifth, use these as inspiration to make your own lists or start your own comparisons or hold a vote over which is better the book or the movie every time a new one comes out.

This could be really fun and easy to maintain since new media properties are constantly being released based on already published books. Since we own them all already, you can use each new release as a way to draw people into your building or on to your social media pages and have them interact with the library.

It’s imperative that we make all of our displays, heck all of our library services, participatory. I wrote about this at length back in November here.

Now just about every time I speak at a library I mention the overall point that we NEED to make the library experience more about the patron experience and less about us, our rules, and our traditions. It’s the PUBLIC library. Guess what that means? The public-- not the library workers-- is in charge. And every time I say this guess what else happens? Someone challenges me on this point. And it is usually a supervisor. The “gate keepers” who are always worried about being too accommodating and flexible.

I have always been pro-public and anti-useless rules. It’s why I worked in a public library, specifically in an underserved community. I have zero patience for library workers who but up barriers to access and assistance. Zero. And even when I wasn’t a supervisor I made my opinion clear.

I was waiving everyone’s fines way before fines free was a thing libraries did, and by the way, I got reprimanded several times for over-waiving fines. [FYI, never stopped; kept getting in trouble; never got fired for it though]. I was also one of the first people in my cooperative system to allow new books be checked out for 3 weeks just like a backlist book. Again, I was told I was crazy, but guess what? It’s pretty much standard now. And when a near by [smaller] library wouldn’t send out their new books via ILL to my library [even though we sent ours to them], even though the title in question was sitting on their shelf with zero local holds.... well, I got the bus schedule and/or drew a map for my patrons so they could make the 3 mile journey to go get the book themselves and check it out in person [which was allowed]. And when my Director got a call to “tell that Becky to stop sending people to check out all of our books,” my Director, after confirming that there were no local holds on said titles, called me into his office and told me to “keep up the good work.”

You see, I put the patron first...always. I made their happiness, their positive experience, their interaction with the library as my top goal for every day I served the public. And do you know what? In the public library world, that is never wrong, no matter what your current misguided boss tell you.

I know not everyone is in a position to actively break the rules as I did. But I will tell you that if you are doing it to improve the patron experience, if that is your rationale, you always have a leg to stand on when defending yourself.

And I will repeat this again here because every time I do, I get at least 5 people who take me up on this offer, if you want to make your library better for the patrons and are trying to implement some of my ideas and still getting push back, have your boss contact me. I can make your argument for you. I love putting bad managers in their place, but not as much as I love spreading the message that the patron comes first.

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