Magazine article American Libraries

Will's World: Meeting the (Basic) Needs of End Users

Magazine article American Libraries

Will's World: Meeting the (Basic) Needs of End Users

Article excerpt

In a recent edition of Inc. magazine, there's a fascinating profile of Ted Turner, the man who built an entertainment empire, invented and implemented the concept of the 24-hour international news channel, won the America's Cup, transformed the mediocre Atlanta Braves baseball franchise into a premier team, and purchased large stretches of Montana grazing land and populated it with big herds of buffalo. He's also the guy who ended up losing his job and several billion dollars after an ill-advised merger with America Online.

Not one to let a mega-financial catastrophe get him down, Turner is back in the news. He's rolling the dice on his buffalo herds. That's right: Turner is creating a nationwide chain of restaurants called Ted's Montana Grill that feature buffalo meat, shiny mahogany bars, reproductions of great Western art, and, in Turner's words, "the fanciest-ass restrooms you've ever seen." I'm intrigued with that quote.

A man who recognizes the importance of maintaining the bathroom is a man who understands people. My guess is that Turner's new venture will be a success. If a restaurant has first-class bathrooms, its customers will learn to love buffalo meat.

Librarians take note. You could have the greatest book collection, the best computer system, and the finest team of reference librarians; but if your bathrooms are dirty, cramped, and in a state of decline, you're not meeting the needs of your end users. Bathrooms are foundational. They are at the base of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. You can tell me that you value your patrons, but until I inspect your bathrooms, I won't believe you. If you maintain a good set of bathrooms in your building you will avoid many problems. Save yourself a lot of grief by learning from my 30-plus years of experience. Here are my tips:

1. Nothing less than two-ply toilet tissue is acceptable. During difficult economic times the temptation is great to save money by dialing down to one-ply. This is the very definition of "pound wise and penny foolish." Not only will your paper disappear twice as fast, but you will infuriate your public and staff. The most critical memorandum I ever received was from a cataloger who indignantly wrote, "Supplying our staff bathrooms with one-ply tissue is the strongest manifestation of your utter disregard for the dignity and morale of your employees. …

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