Library On-Boarding Plan

There was a post in a library group for advice on what to include in staff on-boarding documentation. Since I got carried away, I thought I’d share it here as well. My five years as a UX librarian influences how I view these topics, so your mileage may vary.

Point of View from a Marketing/Communications POV:

1) How we present ourselves to the community with hospitality (our library’s favorite term)? That is, making eye contact, greeting people, etc.

2) How we talk about the Library and its mission. What do we strive to do? What do we value? How do we do work towards our goals?

3) Never badmouth anything in the building (AKA “Oh, yeah. That computer is always acting up….”)

4) How to communicate in various formats. e.g. do we all sign our emails answered from a desk email? Or is it just “Reference Desk”? (I’m a fan of putting at least your first name)

5) Let’s look at signage. What signs are appropriate, where can you find signs, how do we adhere to our branding?

6) What do you do when you see something that is off? e.g. broken sign holder

7) Here’s all the ways we communicate with our patrons. People can sign up in these ways (or at least, they need to be able to find the information).

8) Let’s go over the website. This is an important portal for how people get to know the library. You need to explore it, use it, and get familiar with how it works. Don’t hide in the ILS since patrons don’t have that same access.

9) Are there any words we don’t use or don’t fit our communications? e.g. we try to avoid saying free since donations paid for everything

10) If you have marketing ideas, send them to the marketing person. We’re always ready to hear a fresh perspective, learn about a new audience, or any cool giveaways you saw somewhere else that really wowed you.

Other things I’d include in a general sense:

The building’s appearance is the responsibility of everyone. If you see some trash on the ground, pick it up. If you see a mess in the bathroom, report it.

We don’t expect you to know everything that’s going on in the building, but you need to know how to look it up.

Try to avoid sending patrons running about the building. This goes with the above. For e.g. if wireless printing is on the second floor, don’t send patrons to the lower level.

Here’s a list of which department is responsible for what. This really isn’t patron-facing, but you should know that the STEM lab is managed by the children’s department, not reference.

In your onboarding book/intranet, it doesn’t hurt to have a list of staff and what they’re responsible for. This can be general (since we’ve all got a million hats on), but it’d be nice for staff to know who runs social media or who to see about email problems. This is especially true if you have more cutesy titles which aren’t obvious as to what they mean.

Details about who to see about getting their email setup, their name badge, their schedule, etc. This should be routine, but there are so many details that they can get lost.

List of jargon used. Include both library specific (ILL, ILS, periodicals) as well as your organization specific (e.g. our reference department is not called that!).

Map or detailed tour of the building.

What are the safety protocols? Can anyone grab a fire extinguisher if needed? Where do you keep the wet floor signs?

Here’s how we usually handle bad weather at this library (be honest if you tend to close or you hold out to the bitter end).

This is how we handle alarming patron interactions.

If you’re hiring non-librarians (or people who’ve never worked in a library before), you should have a plan in place to TRULY educate them on your values. It’s one thing to say, “Oh, we protect patron privacy,” but you need to explain why it matters. Why is this so important to our profession? Why should you deeply care and honor that trust? What do you mean by diversity, inclusion, non-political?