The Giraffe in the Room

I promised I'd let you know what was going on with our room rearrangement. For the past twenty years, our desk had us facing a boat (patrol duty) with our backs to 80% of our service area.

Now our desk faces the public and we have a view of the entire area. The giraffe proudly helms the front of the boat (complete with travel posters that we "inserted" a photo of him into) and other animal characters reading in the front nook. The back of the boat is still there for kids to read in.

Staff Reaction? Overall, we love it. Still some tweaks (wires we need to get safely hidden - hence the old SLP banners) but having a view of our entire service area is revelatory (imagine years of facing four red doors). The space is more open and the new carpet's slightly more subdued colors seem to bring down the crazy level.

Patron reaction? Not bad. We point out that the ancient giraffe is now protected and we now can see the whole area to help serve everyone better. There's been a grumble or two but that is the vast minority. We find if we address the change in a cheerful, friendly way as families come in, we get a more positive response.

Most kids are good about the change. The preschoolers are a bit taken aback. But Brooke came up with a great way to navigate them through the change. She shared with the team:  "I’ve started calling it our animal boat.  Because all of our animals decided they needed a place to live, so they picked the boat. The other side is our “people boat”. If they say they want to go up to the giraffe I just ask, 'Are you an animal? No, you’re a person, silly!' "

Of course this is just the first week. We still have a heavy first few months of "Wha?!?!?!" and a good year ahead of people who come in less frequently being startled by the giraffe's new exalted no-kid area. But the team is ready to meet and greet to get our community through the transition.

The story of our adventure is here and here. And below are a few more pictures (think panorama) of what we see in our service area now.


  1. Love it! I remember going there as a kid and it being the other way! Excited to visit at see the new changes :)

  2. I remember visiting (3/26/13) and loving the boat, but hearing your stories about kids running "on deck" and having your back to the rest of the space. It appears that you have found a wonderful solution; it makes me want to visit La Crosse again!

    1. Ellen, it is an amazing transition. Here's hoping the public embraces it and sees why the change needed to hapen!