Overcoming Store or Library Blindness By John Stanley Walk into my office and youï¿½ll notice things that are obvious to you, but not obvious to me. This is because Iï¿½m so familiar with my office that Iï¿½ve become office blind. In retail stores itï¿½s called store blindness and I guess in a library it could be called ï¿½library blindnessï¿½. We all suffer from the phenomena. We miss the obvious whilst strangers, or patrons, pick up the obvious straight away. When it is pointed out to us, we cannot understand why we missed it in the first place. This is a major concern for retailers who rely so much on their visual image as part of their professional standing in the marketplace. To overcome this blindness, the companies you and I admire, tend to rely on a daily checklist to insure they notice the obvious. It still surprises me how many libraries and librarians donï¿½t have a system to monitor the visual image of the library. The result is often that consumers pick up the obvious negative vision points and the library image is damaged as a result. Learning from Retailers When it comes to checklists there is no difference between a retail store and a library, both are public spaces and are judged sub-consciously by the public on what they see. Remember, according to researchers, that 70% of an experience is judged with the eyes. The best way of producing a checklist is to walk the library in the customerï¿½s shoes. Start in the car park and walk the complete journey as if you were a customer. Remember to note the obvious, these are the areas that can make the biggest impact. The checklist would include: Check for litter in the car park Dirty fingerprint marks on the door Out-of-date signs on community boards Faded promotional signs Once youï¿½ve produced a checklist, then you need to implement it in an effective manner. My recommendation is that the checklist is used prior to opening the library every morning. Rotate the implementation of the checklist between the team. This will ensure it does not become a chore, plus each librarian will put a different emphasis on what they believe are the key areas of improvement. The key is not the implementation of the checklist, itï¿½s the implementation of the action plan as a result of filling in the checklist. Get into the habit of remedying the faults found by the checklist within an hour of the library opening. Design a Checklist to Suit Your Needs The above is an example of a typical checklist, this is a guideline to the style of checklist. The key is to write your own and focus on the priorities within your own library. Get the whole team involved, for the checklist to work, youï¿½ll need the library team to buy into the process, otherwise it will be looked as an unnecessary chore. Some of my clients provide themselves with a reward if the checklist provides them with a clean bill of health, whilst some get volunteers from outside of the library service to fill out the checklist as they believe they will be more objective. Be Consistent Once youï¿½ve introduced a checklist, you must ensure that the checklist becomes part of your business culture. I have come across organisations that have maintained a high standard due to the checklist then become complacent and stopped checking standards. As a result visual standards started dropping and the business suffered. Checklists are for the long haul, they work, but they must be an integral part of your business culture.