Managing Library Traffic

Recently, I’ve noticed that the library where I work has been busier than ever—I see lots of new faces, the computer lab is often full, and it’s hard to find a place to sit at the study tables. I wondered what was going on, why our library is suddenly so crowded. Before long, I had my answer. As I walked by a table one morning, a medical student said, “Thanks for the candy.” Sure, you’re welcome, I replied. Soon after, another staff member told me that she heard there was candy in the library so she is now stopping by every morning for some chocolate to go with her coffee. Hmm, I thought. Was the basket of assorted bite-size candy bars and hard candies sitting near our wireless printer, the reason for our library’s new popularity? And did it matter?

Last week two nurses told me they had no idea we had a library at our hospital. They are both in school and were thrilled to hear about the many medical journals we have, and that there is a quiet place to study and use the computer, away from home. Another medical student told me that he heard about the candy and now that he knows we have a library, he is there all the time—often when he needs a quiet place to unwind on a break during a stressful day. I’ve now heard from other staff members that they appreciate being able to stop in the library for a treat, even if they are only coming in to use the copier. But what I like best is that many of our medical staff and students doing rotations at our hospital are now using our electronic databases—resources that they didn’t know were available until recently. The idea to provide candy came from my fiancé—he thought it would make people like the library better, and he was right.

I didn’t expect that providing candy in the library would be as successful as any outreach or marketing effort, but for me it’s been a sweet return on a small investment. (Note: the candy is paid for by various people, including my fiancé, myself, and staff members/physicians).

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Author:Lisa Block

Lisa Block is a Medical Librarian and freelance writer. She loves libraries (who doesn’t?) and her career includes previous positions at a university library, technical college, and public library. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she graduated from Ohio University with a degree in art history. After years of working as a secretary and waitress (utilizing her art history degree) she earned her Master’s degree in library science. Her professional interests include the library in the digital age and “library as place.” In addition to her work as a librarian, she picks up writing jobs when possible (nice work if you can get it). She lives in Atlanta with her imaginary cat Tabitha (she’s a cat lover but highly allergic). In her spare time you’ll find her reading (mystery novels are her favorite), writing, and baking (mostly gluten-free desserts).

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