Saying "Yes" to the "No" List

Published on November 06, 2017

Patron checking out books at a service deskOur library users tell us what they want every day. Recently, staff at The D.B. Weldon Library figured out how to listen more systematically through a project called "The 'No' List." Whenever staff at the service desk received a question where the answer was "no," they wrote it down - no matter how beyond the scope of the library, or how impossible it might be to accomplish. The result was a list of user needs that Western Libraries was not yet meeting.

The good news was that many requests were surprisingly achievable, and could be met through a simple order of supplies: a heavy-duty stapler and hole punch, ear plugs, tissues, dry-erase markers, and book bags. Other requests took a bit more planning, but were ultimately realized in the short term: purchase of phone chargers and additional laptop chargers for loan; changing policy to allow 2-hour loan items out of the library and overnight; and the provision of colour printing, colour photocopying, and scanning through the acquisition of modern multi-functional devices.

"We never want to say 'no,'" says Crystal Mills, a Library Assistant at Weldon who helped facilitate the project. "It feels great to say 'yes' and feel empowered to find a solution that will delight library users with our desire and capacity to help."

A renewed emphasis on user-centred services and policies is driving improvement across Western Libraries, and "The 'No' List" has been introduced at all of our service locations to better understand how our users want to access and use our resources and services. Increasing the capacity of our staff to say 'yes' is part of Western Libraries' commitment to a culture of service through identifying the expressed needs of our users and eliminating barriers to an exceptional library experience.