Chalk notes as a valid communication format

Days like today provide one of the reasons I’ve always wanted to be a library director.  I want to be part of the library’s outreach efforts, to direct them toward goals that make sense to me, and to have the chance to make meaningful connections with users.  I didn’t expect that chance to come from sidewalk chalk, but I’ve been having fun, even so.

I came in Monday morning to see these messages all over our sidewalks.  Every approach to Crumb Library had been tagged:

A very public complaint, and a very clear one.  I don’t feel comfortable ignoring or responding privately to public complaints.  So, later in the day, I replied:

While I was writing my replies, I was stopped by a few students.  One said, “More chalk?” And I grinned, said, “The libraries’ response.” He was flabbergasted that we were replying to chalk notes.  I said, “Hey, you want to talk to me in chalk, I’ll respond in chalk.”

Except I really responded with a poster.

The poster, as a .jpg on Flickr (click through for larger version):

friday sidewalk.001

So there it is.  People have been complimenting me on the response all day.  We’re working up a similar poster for the Crane Library to respond to concerns from the music school students.  I was aiming for fast, transparent, and public, and I think I hit all three goals.  I realize, as I type this, that I was also aiming for personable and approachable, and I hope I hit that one, too.  I spent half an hour talking to people and soliciting opinions about approaches, and a few hours fiddling with a poster design… and maybe, just maybe, as a result of my decision to take those few hours last night to respond, the people who’re frustrated that we close at 6 on Fridays will understand why that is.  And maybe we’ll get some suggestions about what they’d prefer we do.

Either way, it was fun.  C’mon, who doesn’t like sidewalk chalk?

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