One of my Mum's favourite sayings quoted from Burns* invited us to see ourselves as other see us. Do we organise ourselves to suit our internal needs or our organisation's needs or do we find out what meets the needs of our customers.
When I worked at a sixth form college we had a central library with a large silent silent area which held the books, and three smaller resource areas. The central staff had no idea that many of the students found the library intimidating until we had a video made about the bases where many students explained how much they liked the more approachable and less threatening environment of the smaller bases. We couldn't close the library but did need to think how to make it a bit less threatening and value the smaller bases even more for their support for "library phobic" students.
Anthony Finkelstein writing as @profserious on twitter had a similar glance from the "customer's" experience recently "just returned from delivering my son to university of manchester, seeing university through eyes of parent, very instructive, also emotional"
Bohyun Kim (http://bohyunkim.net/) discusses the same thought when commenting on Netflix and their structural changes which have no apparent benefits to their customers - indeed making things more difficult in their internal streamlining. She relates this to the separation we make between e-resources and paper ones. "Searching an OPAC and jumping between an OPAC and an e-journal portal/a database list page/e-reader information page are not very pleasant or reassuring experience to library users."
It is even more confusing for HE students in FE who have two sets of resources to navigate - it confuses me half the time so how do we expect the lecturers and students to cope and think well of us and our services.
We are fortunate to have these glimpses and must hold them in our memories when they appear to remind ourselves where our focus needs to be. We can't change everything we would like to be but remembering the perspective will help us to prioritise things to suit the student (or lecturer, or researcher) rather than us.
*O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.
(O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us.)
- Robert Burns, Poem "To a Louse" - verse 8
- ** http://www.soil-net.com/album/animals/Invertebrates/slides/Woodlouse%2004.html