Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ch-ch-ch-changes! (Part 2)

While I was talking with Jon Moretti, awesome Gaylord salesman, we sat at a beautiful circulation desk they had brought to the ALA conference with them.  Check it out:

Isn't that BEAUTIFUL? I kept telling Jon how gorgeous the circ desk was and how much I disliked the one we had because it was too difficult for all three of us to work behind it at the same time.  He told me he could cut me a deal on one that they had in their warehouse - it was the same style as the one they brought to ALA, but had a different color countertop.  Before they had the green desk, they used to take this other desk to the conferences with them, and now they just needed to sell it.  I was more than happy to help them get it out of their warehouse.  They also gave me a great deal on a study table & chairs and a mobile book display unit with slatwalls.

Check out the monumental difference between our old desk and our new one in these before and after pictures:

View from the front door
View from the back corner
View from the front corner (looking at the touchscreen sign-in and the book drop)

Meeting with vendors face-to-face is one of the many important reasons why librarians should attend conferences - local, state, or national.  There were more than 1,500 vendors in the ALA Exhibit Hall, including many vendors I had never had the chance to meet with before.  Salespeople can offer you discounts that you can't get by ordering on the website or calling the 800 number. I would never have gotten the discount on the new mobile shelving if I had called the 800 number or ordered it online. And I certainly would never have had the opportunity to buy this circ desk at a fabulous price (that I could afford), if I hadn't talked to the sales rep face-to-face.

Successful librarians build relationships with their patrons. However, it's easy to forget that we also need to spend time building relationships with vendors who can provide us with the latest & greatest technologies, furniture, and supplies to make our libraries the best they can be.

I will admit that I have, on occasion, blown off a vendor who called me or showed up at school unannounced.  I do have some favorite vendors who I turn to regularly for books, supplies, and furniture.  And I also refuse to purchase things from a few vendors who gave me bad service in the past.  [Side note: one book vendor, who is extremely popular with librarians, doesn't get a dime of my budget because of terrible customer service and many wrong book orders.]  So I understand when librarians order from the same companies time and again.

I can speak from experience when I say that meeting with vendors face-to-face, talking to them honestly, and being open to new ideas, new products, and new ways of doing things can pay off in big ways.