Category Archives: Peer-Reviewed Article

“Straight to the Heart of Things”—Reflecting on Library Metaphors for Impact and Assessment

Richard A. Stoddart
Assessment Librarian
Oregon State University and Press


This paper explores the use and creative application of library metaphors. Unfortunately, the facts aren’t always able to speak for themselves. Simply stating reference statistics, gate counts, and resource circulation numbers are not persuasive narratives in and of themselves. Voice and context needs to be given to these forms of evidence in order create connections within our communities. These connections create pathways for stakeholders to draw meaningful conclusions and thus transference of the story libraries are trying to tell.  Uncovering the words and stories that resonate within our communities is challenging work. One simple and dynamic tool to begin to tell the story of our libraries is through the use of metaphor.

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The Library Concierge Project at Stanford University

Author: Chris Bourg [i]
Assistant University Librarian for Public Services
Stanford University Libraries


To meet the challenge of ensuring that library staff and scholars/patrons are aware of the full range of resources and services offered through the library, the Stanford University Libraries initiated a Library Concierge Project in November of 2011. This article describes the program and provides an assessment of how well the Library Concierge Project has met its goals of promoting a service-focused culture and educating staff.  A description of the concierge concept in action is also provided, along with anecdotal evidence of the impact of the project on supported scholars.

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Developing Hybrid Models for Library Customer Service Standards

Author: Cherry-Ann Smart
Special Collections Librarian
University of the West Indies, Mona Campus


Purpose – This paper explores issues surrounding customer service in libraries.  It encourages the development of hybrid models for customer service standards based on institutional and local culture, technology, and the involvement of staff and stakeholders.

Design/methodology/approach – Posits that technology in library operations emphasizes the human element which is important for service delivery and good customer relations.  Suggests if clear parameters about policies are not established and communicated to both parties prior to administration of service polls, library staff may become disenfranchised by negative results.  Further suggests that if this baseline is not first established survey responses may be flawed and caution should be applied when benchmarking.  By reviewing the literature and polling professional and para-professional staff of one academic library in Jamaica, the author recommends the creation of hybrid models of customer service standards, especially for developing countries.

Findings – The paper supports libraries’ development of their own hybrid models to improve the customer service encounter.

Research limitations/implications – The paper demonstrates that imbalance in the manager-patron-staff triage as a result of historical, socio-economical, and cultural factors may be a possible barrier to excellent customer service in academic libraries and needs to be further explored.

Practical implications – The paper provides a practical guide for libraries interested in developing hybrid customer service standards.

Originality/value – This conceptual paper reviews customer service delivery from a developing country viewpoint and deliberates the implications of importing alien practices, while ignoring existing constructive practices which may be integrated to offer more effective service.

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