Because Stephanie Weaver creates experiences designed to change our workplaces, it’s no surprise that her new Infopeople workshop itself provides a memorable experience.
“Experienceology: 8 Steps to Better Library Experiences” leaves participants with “simple, common sense ideas” that can easily be applied in libraries of any size, Weaver noted recently. It helps those working in libraries to view their own organizations through the eyes of those who use them in an attempt to inspire changes which are collaborative and attractive to everyone involved.
The process is meant to be easy and straightforward. It is drawn from her book Creating Great Visitor Experiences: A Guide for Museums, Parks, Zoos, Gardens, & Libraries and offers eight steps including invitation, welcome, orientation, comfort, communication, sensation, common sense, and finale. The workshop presentation style moves away from the text-based bullet-point format of PowerPoint presentations and, instead, features discussions inspired by pictures from libraries and other cultural institutions (such as the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg/Children’s Theatre of Charlotte ImaginOn) which innovatively create settings to draw their members and guests toward what they are offering. One of the final workshop exercises moves the learning out of the classroom and into the world of libraries as they exist today by having participants walk through the library where the workshop is being offered. Applying what they have learned through the daylong Experienceology discussions, the students observe what is already in place and then, as a group, discuss what might be done within that library to make it even more attractive to all who can benefit from its services.
By the time the workshop ends, everyone has gained. Participants have an experience they can replicate in their own workplace, and the staff of the host library has, in essence, a free consultants’ report from the best of all possible consulting groups: colleagues who enthusiastically embrace and are dedicated to spreading what they have learned. The ultimate beneficiaries, of course, include the library members and guests who will find a home away from home to which they will repeatedly return.
Initial reaction to the workshop has been extremely positive, and Weaver herself is looking forward to leading the upcoming workshops in Los Angeles, Fresno, El Cajon, San Jose, Buena Park, and San Francisco between now and October 2008.
“I want to inspire people to see their libraries as if they were visitors for the very first time…to see the library with fresh eyes…and make changes. My goal is to serve the community,” she concluded.