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Library News Release

Release Date: 05/11/2010

The Seattle Public Library presents: 'The User Experience in the 21st Century Library' 10 a.m. Saturday, June 12

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The Seattle Public Library will present a panel discussion titled, "The User Experience in the 21st Century Library" at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 12 at the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 1, Microsoft Auditorium.

The event is free and open to the public. There is no registration. Parking is available at the Central Library garage at the regular rates. "This program will provide a great opportunity for patrons to help us explore new ways to provide better service," said City Librarian Susan Hildreth.

The Library launched a strategic planning process, "My Library: The Next Generation," with a series of citywide "community conversations" in March. The Library presented a forum on technology and its impact on the future of libraries in May. A Strategic Planning Advisory Committee also is providing ideas on the future roles of the Library in a rapidly changing world.

Virginia Anderson, a member of the Strategic Planning Advisory Committee, will moderate the discussion, which will also include opportunities for audience questions. Anderson is the former president of the Safeco Foundation and senior vice president of Safeco Community Relations. She also served for 18 years as director of Seattle Center.

Featured panelists include library consultants Joan Frye Williams and George Needham, customer service expert Robert Spector and Starbucks' senior vice president of global design Tim Pfeiffer.


  • Williams is an internationally recognized library futurist whose consulting work emphasizes innovation and emerging library trends. The former librarian works with libraries of all types and sizes, library consortia, state library agencies, professional library associations, library boards, library vendors and architects.
  • Needham currently divides his time as a library consultant and work as vice president for Global and Regional Councils for Online Computer Library Center Inc. (OCLC), a nonprofit computer service and research organization whose systems help libraries locate, acquire, catalog, and lend library materials. He's been Michigan's state librarian, executive director of the Public Library Association and a library director in Ohio.
  • Spector is a nationally recognized speaker and author on customer service. His books include: "The Nordstrom Way: The Inside Story of America's #1 Customer Service Company" and "The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence: A Handbook Implementing Great Service in Your Organization." His latest book is titled, "The Mom & Pop Store: How the Unsung Heroes of the American Economy are Surviving and Thriving."
  • Pfeiffer joined Starbucks in 2008, working to strengthen the Starbucks global brand identity and enhance the customer experience. Through innovative, inspired and sustainable global store environments he and his team are re-establishing Starbucks Coffee Company as the leading green retailer in the world. His background also includes 12 years as vice president of global store development at Polo Ralph Lauren.


Hildreth anticipates a lively panel discussion around trends and best practices in customer service. "Libraries certainly have been influenced by commercial endeavors and businesses have employed strategies long-held by public libraries," Hildreth said.

Other topics the panel will address include the public's expectations around the Library as a:


  • Community gathering space
  • Provider of online and print information
  • Resource for help from well-trained staff.


"The Library's number one service goal is providing exemplary service to our customers," Hildreth said. For more information, call 206-386-4636, or visit www.spl.org and select "Strategic Planning."

For more information contact:

Andra Addison, communications director

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