I had many opportunities to interact with students, observe the use of the library as a place of gathering and study, and ponder ways to improve the overall library atmosphere and user experience while working as the evening and weekend Circulation Coordinator for Hurst Library at Northwest University in Kirkland, WA. I was able to suggest and implement several changes that created a more open entry to the library, re-arrange several study areas to create a more pleasant atmosphere, and re-configure the circulation staff work area to lessen disturbance to staff working on projects while creating an open and welcoming customer service area. One of the most memorable experiences at Hurst Library was the chance to start an ongoing display of art by current and former students and employees of the University.
While working at the circulation counter and in the stacks, I observed that the current artwork was out of date and many walls were bare and uninspiring. This sense had also been shared by students and other staff. With the approval of my supervisor I contacted the Campus Art and Décor Committee that oversees art on the campus. We entered into a dialog about the feasibility of a rotating display of art at the library. With approval and input from the Library Director I drafted a proposal to the Committee as well as updating the library display policy to address potential problems associated with this new project. The project was approved for an initial show, with an evaluation of the process afterward to determine the practicability of continuing the partnership and to work out any remaining concerns from either party. The initial show was a great success leading to several subsequent shows. It should continue into the future with artists and artwork lined up through the Campus Art and Décor Committee and hosted at the library on a rotating basis.
During this process I learned important considerations involved with seeing a problem, envisioning a solution, getting others to buy into the vision, and bringing it all to fruition. I learned the steps necessary to make a project gain the right support that will allow it to succeed and continue into the future while working with diverse members of the university community to implement a sustainable plan. Consulting initially within the User Services department, then moving on to conversations with the Library Director ensured that the library was on board prior to initiating a conversation with the Committee. I wrote a project proposal to create a clear understanding for all parties of the desired process and outcomes, the first such document I had penned. Re-writing the library display policy to account for this new project afforded me the opportunity to consider the ramifications of a new service and address possible issues in the future.
This project illustrated many of the ways I hope to contribute to my future work and the library profession. I see the benefit of working with members of the larger institutional constituency to realize mutual goals, whether making the campus a more attractive place or improving student satisfaction by improving a popular study environment. I plan to apply the lessons I learned through this process to managing people, services, and materials. I hope I can free people up to pursue a worthy project or idea as I was allowed to take steps outside of my regular job duties to initiate and follow through in the design and implementation of a new collaborative project. The experience encourages me to continue to think about issues, services, and environments that affect library patrons. It encourages me to consider how I can envision improvements and then work to bring them to reality.