Does our grooming affect the usage of our library? A sharing of experience from a series of workshops

BADRUESHAM, Nurfarawahidah (2018) Does our grooming affect the usage of our library? A sharing of experience from a series of workshops. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2018 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Transform Libraries, Transform Societies in Session 142 - New Professionals SIG, Management of Library Associations and Public Libraries.

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Language: English (Original)
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Does our grooming affect the usage of our library? A sharing of experience from a series of workshops

First impressions count! Although we are often told ‘not to judge a book by its cover’, most people do make a judgement based on how a person looks dresses and greets when they first meet. In a library, and especially at the reference service desk, an essential component of a successful encounter is that a librarian be approachable (ALA, 2004). A judgment of approachability is a first impression and has an enduring effect on the patron's experience (Fiske, Lin, & Neuberg, 1999). Whether or not a librarian appears approachable in a public service environment is critical to providing good service, conveying a welcoming environment, and encouraging users to engage with the library’s multitude of resources and services. Many empirical studies of reference interactions have focused on the communication that takes place after users have initiated contact with a librarian. While library schools and continuing education programs provide excellent training on the reference interview and matching the users’ needs with the resources, it is important that the user first approach the librarian. The crucial moments in which a patron decides whether or not to approach a librarian to ask for help have the potential to influence, and even increase, the level of meaningful engagement with library users. Malaysia is a multi-racial and multi-cultural country that is rapidly developing, and it is important that users make use of the library resources and services for personal and professional benefit. Many of the librarians are young, and do not fit the stereotype of bespectacled elderly scholars ready to dish out information from their fingertips. With a large young population in the country, there is an [erroneous] impression that everything can be found on the Internet and with in-person visits to the library declining, it is even more important for librarians to create a good first impression and be approachable. This presentation reports on a series of seminars and workshops on personal grooming and etiquette that have been held for library staff by the presenter. The presenter is a qualified librarian, as well as a certified image consultant for the past four years. Through feedback and interviews with seminar / workshop participants, it was found that the sessions made a difference in the ways the staff dress, but also to their self-esteem, their communication with library patrons, as well as the responses received from patrons. These factors can potentially lead to better service and create favourable impressions among the library patrons, thereby leading to increase usage.

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