Bibliofoon, the initiative

Posted by jlubans on December 14, 2010

I am revising my Customer Services workshop for use in my Fulbright teaching in Riga and elsewhere. The last time I did this workshop - "To Save the Time of the User: Customer Service in Libraries" -, the workshop could have gone much better so I am revising it from start to finish.

I am adding a problem solving initiative that I have used in classes and workshops to help "break the ice" about group work and to get across the importance of internal and external customers. I call it Bibliofoon, after the Delft Technological University Library's conveyor belt circulation system introduced in 1965. Here is my application of Delft's highly creative and innovative way of getting closed stack books to library users:

The set up, along with the rules.

20101215-pipeline.jpg10 or more sections of "conveyer belt" (split 2” wide plastic chutes, about 16” long, one for each person in the human "conveyor belt.") See the picture.
Balls (generic books) golf balls, pingpong balls, large marbles, etc.
Bucket with which the customer, the user waits for books
Borders marked with tape

Set up:
1. Set the start so that the distance from the boundary marker (the start) to the library user (goal) is 3-5 paces more that the number of participants.
2. One pace for each participant
So, for a group of ten it is 10 paces, with an extra 3-5 paces at end. Increase difficulty by adding a number of paces.
3. Add a dog leg and or obstacle of some sort.
4. Mark the boundaries with tape on floor. Approximate shape.
5. Have group establish their goal: x number of books delivered to user in y minutes.
Variations: A troubleshooter role, a user at receiving end, a quality inspector, a warehouse worker.

Quality Rules
a. Books may never stop rolling - keep those doggies movin'
b. Books cannot roll backward - no one step forward two back
c. Books may not drop on ground - not good conservation
d. Team members may not touch the book after it drops into the first chute - unless wearing latex gloves.
e. Chutes may not touch - no turf encroachment!

Team members (the human conveyor belt from warehouse to reading room) are responsible for enforcing quality rules.
Consequences: If a quality rule is broken, books in the chutes must be returned to the warehouse.
Consistently poor quality will result in the loss of a conveyor belt segment for the cycle.
We'll see how it goes in Europe. Of course, any group who wants to have fun and learn will make it happen. A group that has issues to start with, the end result will probably be diagnostic of their organization's problems.

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