Thursday, May 18, 2006

I've been George Needham'd (literally)

But I wasn't the only one... Yesterday was MPOW's annual Spring Membership meeting (20th anniversary to boot), and we were delighted and honored to have OCLC VP for Member Services George Needham on hand to discuss OCLC's must-read "Perceptions" report. I know it's been out for awhile but if you haven't read it yet, go read it. Or re-read it. Or read the 8 page conclusion. Or the respondent's advice to libraries.

George's talk was wonderful. Warm, reassuring and hopeful, while still being provocative and challenging. Here are some highlights:
  • "It is not the customer's job to understand us, it is our job to understand the customer." (paraphrased from a comment made to OCLC Prez Jay Jordan, "It is not our job to understand OCLC, it is OCLC's job to understand us."

  • "Convenience will always trump quality (so it is our job to make quality convenient.)"

  • George summarized the points of Jennifer Rice, Omar Wasow, Antony Brewerton and Patricia Martin who spoke at OCLC's mid-winter "Extreme Makever" symposium in San Antonio. The webcast and mp3s are available at: Of particular relevance to our audience was George quoting Jennifer Rice (Mantra Brand Consulting--great blog!) on the importance of libraries letting customers get a library card online. You can hear just that snippet of Jennifer's talk here:(direct link or press the blue arrow.) This was particularly significant because we're piloting a Get a Library Card Online project - aka GALCO- in New Jersey!

  • What do customers tell us they want? More books, more copies, no fines, longer hours, more computers, friendlier staff, cleaner, better-lit, uncluttered facilities.

  • George quoted Joan Frye Williams' point that self-service isn't synonymous with "no service" and would better be thought of as "self-directed" service. YES!!
Thanks Mr. Needham. Indeed, it was all good.


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