Tuesday, August 30, 2011

No you may not have a pony

One of my jobs as library manager is to respond to patron comment cards. I email the patron a response directly (if they provided their email) and put the typed response up on the bulletin board. I have a love/hate relationship with patron comment cards.

I love that patrons have taken their time to share feedback with us.

I hate it when we have failed them.

I love it when they're praising us.

I hate it when I have to say no to a new service that they want. These are usually things that other libraries offer (ie fax service) that we don't or can't afford.

I love the ridiculousness of some of their requests. Some of the things they ask are completely out of the realm of possibility. They want me to do a major renovation to the building, stop the sidewalks from ever having snow (we're in Anchorage; we do get them shovelled, but some accumulation is inevitable), double my library staff, and so forth. I had one patron complaining because the library staff did not remember her personal email address password. Then there are the people who would prefer me to change basic human nature and stop the teenagers from congregating in groups. So far the requests have stopped just short of asking me to bend the laws of physics. But someday someone is going to ask that I make the sun shine for longer.

When I answer these comment cards I feel like the parent living in the middle of the city explaining to their urban child why they can not have a pony.