I love visiting the peaceful setting of the suburban Crystal Lake Public Library. The two-story building welcomes patrons with an information desk immediately followed by several computers. Further from the entrance, but centered on the first floor, the reference triangle serves as the hub of the library. All first-floor patrons pass around the triangle as if it was the sun in the middle of the solar system.
Some patrons stroll past smiling, but others cordially stretch into the space with comments and questions. While at the service desk, these librarians answer questions, greet newcomers, and answer the phone. Both simple and complex questions are addressed by the sun-like staff. Tools including desktop computers, telephone, and other office supplies surround them. Since there were never more than two patrons visiting the reference desk simultaneously, patron were helped as they arrived.
As I observed, eight patrons came over to ask direct questions, and the telephone was utilized twice. Most exchanges seemed cordial and polite. The reference service staff listened carefully, repeated questions for accuracy, and offered options. Some of the patrons spoke from a distance as they approached the desk. One man asked, “Which bathroom is more popular? I noticed there are 3 in this place.” The staff answered as best they could, and did not partake in any conversation following such a strange inquiry. Other questions were addressed, and if necessary, the staff member, not only expressed where the material would be, but also walked the patrons to the correct location.
However, when the phone rang a level of impatience was heard. From the distance, I could hear nearly all of the one-way conversation. The librarian questioned and discussed with the telephone patron somewhat impatiently. I wondered if the patron had a hearing disability. It was the only exchange when a staff member seemed short and impatient. Perhaps, the telephone exchange should be left to a staff member outside of the fray of the hub!
From my observation, the Crystal Lake Public Library serves individuals respectfully, efficiently, and completely. Exhibiting approachability, interest, inquiry, and searching expertise, staff members cater to the needs of the patrons and make the library a fabulous place to visit, research, and learn.