Customer Service

Customer Service Policy

The North Adams Public Library strives to offer excellent library services, which includes a quality and welcoming facility and a collection that is varied and current. Successful customer service connects customers to what they need, but also leaves them satisfied and happy and eager to return again to the North Adams Public Library because they feel that the library is the ideal place to fulfill their needs.

The library staff provides friendly, efficient and accurate service to all patrons at all times. It is important to keep in mind that the patron is the customer to whom the staff is ultimately responsible.

The Customer Service Policy of the North Adams Public Library is the foundation for all staff interactions with the general public. All other library policies should be interpreted in light of the principles outlined below:

  • The library does not discriminate and offers the same quality of service to all regardless of age, race, sex,¬†nationality, educational background, physical limitations or any other criteria.
  • Patrons are to be treated politely, promptly, and with helpful attention.
  • Judgment calls are to be made in the patron’s favor. If a mistake is made, it should always be to the patron’s advantage.
  • Let’s trust our patrons unless the individual history of a patron has shown us they are not trustworthy.
  • If a staff member is unable to comply with a request the patron will be offered an alternative, such as an interlibrary loan request, etc.
  • Don’t say “I don’t know.” Try not to let anyone leave the library without following through on every possible avenue for answering the request.
  • Staff members are familiar with library policies and services and are able to articulate them and to explain the rationale behind them.

The manner in which a person looks, speaks, and acts conveys an attitude, just as the tone of voice and choice of words affect a message.

It is imperative that every staff/patron interaction be a positive one for the patron. A friendly, helpful manner usually ensures a positive experience even when the message conveyed is not a pleasant one and will ensure that the patron will walk away feeling that their experience with the library has been a positive one.

Each staff member, while at work, is a representative of the library. The impression made on the patron profoundly affects the library’s image and on-going support.


All interactions and transactions between a library patron or group of patrons and the library will be considered confidential and will be discussed only in a professional context. (Such matters include, but are not limited to, registration information, materials selection, loan transaction records, reference questions, patron card status, etc.). Staff should remember that discussion of confidential patron issues should be limited to non-public areas.


1. Be punctual. Service commences at the advertised hour we open and full service is available until the hour the library closes. Phones should be answered and workstations manned when the library opens for the public.

2. Wear your name tag when you are on the desk.

3. Answer the phone in a pleasant manner, using a greeting, identifying the library and yourself and offering help. “Good morning” and “May I help you?” goes a long way.

4. Smile.

5. Greet the patron. If you know their name use it when greeting the patron. Acknowledge a patron’s presence by looking up and making eye contact. If you are busy with another patron, acknowledge the patron who is waiting and explain that you will help the new patron as soon as you can.

6. Maintain friendly contact with library users without engaging in lengthy conversations. If it is hard to break away, explain that you enjoy talking but you need to get back to work.

7. If the patron is a new borrower, make them feel welcome by giving them a tour of the library or ask the Reference Librarian to do so. Take time to answer any questions about the library. Trust the new borrower, unless you have grounds not to.

8. Keep your voice low so it doesn’t disturb library users.

9. Keep conversation with other staff members to a minimum. If you need to discuss something in depth, do it when you are both off the desk and out of the public area. If it can’t wait, get coverage for the desk and go to the staff area to have your discussion. Even though you may be discussing library business the public will think you are socializing and are too busy to help them.

10. Avoid extended phone calls while you are on the desk. Even though the call is library-related, it means you are not available to library users. Place calls when you are off the desk. If you receive a call, ask if you can call back or ask someone to cover for you and go to a non-public area.

11. Take personal phone calls away from the desk. Either tell the caller you will call back when you are off the desk or ask someone to cover for you and go to a non-public area to take your call.

12. Look up and around periodically. If you are on the any service desk, walk around and notice if there are people in the stacks or at the terminals who might need help. Being helpful to patrons takes precedence over desk work. People aren’t an interruption of our work, they are our work.

13. Never point. If you are at any service desk, escort the patron to the appropriate area. If you are at the busy main desk, have one staff member remain on desk or ask the Director to help.

14. When referring a patron to another staff member, ask that staff member to help the patron instead of leaving the patron to fend for herself.

15. Conduct transactions in a helpful, pleasant tone of voice. Keep any impatience, annoyance or implication of ignorance from your voice. It’s always better to presume that the patron is unfamiliar with the library, the Dewey Decimal system and the catalog.

16. Unless there is a specific discipline problem, as noted in our Patron Behavior Policy,  do not reprimand or scold patrons.

17. Use plain language when speaking to patrons, keeping library jargon to a minimum.

18. When there is an incident of unacceptable patron behavior document it by filling out an Incident Report form.

19. When a patron complains, refer the patron to the Library Director if they are available. Suggest that they put their complaint in writing.

20. If there will be a lapse of time before you can obtain information for a patron, tell the patron you will call them. Don’t tell the patron to call you.

21. Do not neglect service to patrons by performing housekeeping tasks.

22. Many of the library procedures are the ideal. Sometimes in order to satisfy patrons you may have to “bend” the rule. For example, if a patron forgets his card and is standing in front of you wanting to check out books, you politely ask them to bring their card next time, and make an exception to the rule. If you do not know the patron, request a photo ID.

Revised by the Board of Library Trustees on September 12, 2016