Workshop: The Best Service Is No Service


The hidden 90% of public library readers.

Most of the people who visit a public library do not ask for help: somewhere upwards of 90%. How can we design the library environment so that these readers receive a transformative library experience?

We explored this question recently in a workshop at the Council Bluffs Public Library: “The Best Service Is No Service.” I’ve posted the slides and handout for the workshop, and I welcome your questions and comments.



Perhaps after all, the best service is no service. In the words of Lao Tzu:

“When the Master governs, the people are hardly aware that he exists. Next best is a leader who is loved. Next, one who is feared. The worst is one who is despised.

If you don’t trust the people, you make them untrustworthy. The Master doesn’t talk, he acts. When his work is done, the people say, Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves!”

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 17, trans. Stephen Mitchell



  1. Roy,

    One does not go to a National Park to see the Park Rangers. But there is a satisfaction on seeing a uniformed Ranger in the Park. It is a confirmation that the Park is an experience with enough complexity and richness that it deserves the services of specialists and that the Rangers are there to enhance the expereince without being obnoxous. They are dignified with their four tuck straight brim hats. Such hats can only be worn within Park boundaries. They would be silly elsewhere. It is great to have some place so tranformational.


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