The Art of Asking

The Art of Asking

The Art of Asking

While we all cannot be as bold as Amanda Palmer in The Art of Asking, the video shows that people are often willing to give from their hearts if they feel a connection to the person who is asking for something. Creating a rapport with past, present, and future information users can be achieved by creating a brand for your library. Know your users, do not hesitate to ask them what they want. Of course, observation and research are valuable tools for learning about your users, but it is more effective to foster relationships of trust.

The university students who were subjects Marshall, Burns, & Briden’s study shared information about library use and the process of writing a research paper. While the findings are interesting, I am more impressed by the willingness of the students to openly share their views of the library.  They shared information that “provided many ‘aha’ moments for us (Marshall, Burns, Briden, 2007),” said library staff. The importance of reaching out to users by asking what they want and need creates a responsibility to take action with information that is gathered. Without a willingness to listen AND take action librarians run the risk of losing the trust of information seekers. Librarians must not lose sight of the fact that they are information seekers themselves – they are seeing ways to reach all users.

Marshall, Burns, & Briden. (2007). Rochester’s two-year ethnographic study reveals what students do on campus and how the library fits in. Library Journal. Retrieved from

TED conferences. (2013). Amanda Palmer: the art of asking. TED: technology, entertainment, design. Retrieved from


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