You are what you experience.

“You are what you experience!”

I was so excited.  What a great phrase! I fashioned it after the phrase, “you are what you eat.”  It gets at my thinking about what libraries should be about – The experiences of the members and the staff combine to make us what we are.

I just knew Barlett’s Quotations would be hounding me to include my brilliance in a special edition.  I was sure no one had used this before but to be positive I Googled the phrase and found this:

Smart guy!  So while his message is slightly different, the title of the clip is the same.  I have to give him credit by about 8 months! Darn! So much for my brilliance!

I still like this phrase.  Not only does it put experiences front and center, but it takes into account the learning that happens as a result of our experiences.  We teach our members, through their experiences, what we want them to do and not do.  They train us through experiences what they want and need from us.  This mobius strip of experiences constantly improves and makes libraries what we are and what we will become.

We studied learning styles at our library to help us understand how each person learns.  Many of us, as adults, learn in a variety of ways: listening, reading, etc.  However, I believe that the most basic style of learning is kinesthetic or tactile.  It is what we use as children and as a basic style for most things.  We read about how to drive, what the rules are, etc.  But, we don’t really learn to drive until we actually do it.  Learning a musical instrument is the same.  You can read recipes or watch cooking shows on TV, but until you actually bake a cake or chop an onion you don’t really “learn” it.

I think much of the user experience in libraries is the same.  We can read signs or look it up on the computer, but until we actually walk to where the book is on the shelf we don’t really know where to find it. After that, we can return to that same spot with less effort.

I want to explore the experience process and how we make it easy and hard for the public to use our libraries and how they communicate what they want through the way they use the library.

I want to hear from you.  Share your experiences with me.  As I explore ideas give me your thoughts.  I want to learn from you.

  • Deb Southerland

    I do like the phrase. I also like: What you are willing to do determines who you will be. It works for both good and bad. And it is valuable for a lifetime, as we continue to lean and push and try to find our way in this complicated world. If librarians are willing to walk out into the stacks, to gently guide those who are confused, to help others learn about the library and how to use the changing system, and do it all with a caring kindness, the experience will continue to be good. Librarians are usually really good listeners, but sometimes become so distanced from what is going on in the front lines and what the members are saying they need that it appears as though librarians (especially administration)sometime forget the library should be of the people, by the people, and for the people. Your blog indicates you are willing to listen and consider. A good librarian.