Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Showing Patrons the Door?

Ok, two posts in one day? Lookout!

But seriously, I came across another good one I wanted to share:

Showing Patrons the Door
by David Lee King
Showing patrons the door? Yikes – we’d never do that (under normal circumstances, anyway)! ... [L]ibrarians would never consciously walk up to a patron and tell them to leave if that patron was having trouble using something in the library … right?

I think we DO sometimes tell our patrons to leave when we make things difficult for them. We might as well be saying "here’s the door, don’t let it hit you on the way out."


Is your website confusing? Do customers have to puzzle out what they need to do next while on your site? If so … your website is showing patrons the door. Same with our catalogs – a confusing catalog might just steer customers away from checking stuff out – and that’s one of our major, must-have services!


Other ways to show patrons the door might include hard to find stuff on your website, hidden content, or even library services that aren’t mentioned anywhere on your website.

So – what do you think? What else shows patrons the door, and how can we fix that?


  1. How can it be? Twice in 1 Ref shift I showed 2 students "the door"! Me? Never. But oh yes I did.

    Patron: "Excuse me, where are the restrooms?"
    Barb: "Well, we don't have any signs that indicate where our restrooms are, but I'll show you where they are."

    Patron: "I don't understand how books are arranged on your shelves. I'm looking for books on Sigmund Freud. I wrote down this call number- BF 109 . . . I went to 3rd floor and the call number on the book says AS BF 109 . . . I don't get that."

    Barb: "Well, yrs ago that book was in our Arts & Sciences library . . ."

    Patron: "Well, don't you think that's confusing? I've been up here for 20 minutes just walking back and forth looking for this book!"

  2. Here's an interesting quote from a blog (ACRLog)I was just reading:

    "I am sure that most of your library buildings have some sort of quite obvious building directory near the entrance so that visitors can immediately get a sense of the layout to aid their wayfinding."

    They were just installing theirs...when will we get ours?