I’ve been wondering about dust bunnies lately. Wondering if I should just leave them alone to get on with their dusty little lives. Stephen King first introduced me to dust bunnies. It may have been in Dolores Claiborne, but I’m not sure now. The acquaintance goes further back than that, but King named them for me.
Dust bunnies are odd creatures, always there, ready to reappear, never quite abandoning your space and leaving you to your own devices. You think you’ve got them, done and dusted so to speak, but then you look again, under a bed, in a corner, and there they go. Busily gathering dust.
The thing with dust bunnies is, they are happy in their work. They will always be there, happily procreating and reproducing, infinite in their numbers, day after day, night without end. Irrespective of my interventions. Even if I make their destruction my life’s work. And at the end of the day, or night without end, no matter how much effort I put into their demise, I cannot win. And nobody but me even notices the ‘important’ work I’ve been doing. Worst of all, as I work away, under the bed, happily sweeping and scooping, I miss a lot of potential interactions with important people. Friends, family, or visiting Seventh Day Adventists.
I wonder if dust bunnies are an issue in libraries? Do librarians spend a lot of time chasing the dusty wee devils? Do they ever stop to think about whether or not the dust bunnies are really important? Important enough to risk missing an opportunity, an interaction, the chance to satisfy a customer? Or is it just easier to chase dust bunnies, day after day, night without end, rather than take the risk of inviting engagement. Of potentially not knowing an answer?
Amazingly successful in his work with the Apple brand, this excellent slideshare offers insight into the way Jobs works, and the principles that guide him. He doesn’t seem to want to talk about dust bunnies, but I really got the impression that he would take a live and let live line. Can we learn from his ability to work out what is really important? How might we create the best experience for library users by following his principles? One way might be to fill the floors of our libraries, not with checkout chicks chasing dust bunnies, but with experts, geniuses, people who are passionate about what libraries have to offer.
Which brings me to Catatonia’s excellent post this week. She questions, amongst other things, the lack of value we place on reader’s advisory skills in libraries. She asks why we put people in frontline positions when they do not have the customer service attributes that we require. When they don’t even like people much. She wonders aloud about what our core business is, and how we measure our success in delivering it to our users. She wonders lots of things, and I wonder if Steve Jobs has some of the answers for Catatonia and the rest of us.
I’m still wondering if I’ve made the right call about the dust bunnies. You see, I’ve decided to let things slide at home. I have surrendered to the dust bunnies, and withdrawn from the battle. They are happily procreating as I write, and there is a niggling fear in the back of my mind that my dust bunnies might turn out to be a bit more like King’s than I would prefer. My epitaph may well be “She didn’t dust”.