November 20, 2017

Georgia Lomax | Movers & Shakers 2010 – Marketers

Library Journal March 15, 2010: Georgia Lomax, Mover & Shaker

The Royal Treatment

Outreach Services Queen Georgia Lomax is a pro. She gets what makes a public library a valued community institution—dedication to the customer.

Lomax is a promise keeper. When Pierce County Library System (PCLS) won a levy in 2006 (which recently was reauthorized), the administration promised it would expand hours, add books and other materials, increase services for youth, and improve customer service and technology. Lomax worked with the communication director to publicize these achievements. The local newspaper applauded these efforts with front-page articles and an editorial.

Lomax and her staff have devoted a lot of effort toward defining and implementing customer service needs. They’ve identified three levels: “Get me started” is aimed at the 80 percent of customers who require services like self-checkout technology, good signage, booklists, or limited information to be successful. The remaining 20 percent require skilled staff to provide targeted assistance, coaching, or teaching to “get me unstuck” and “keep me interested.”

“We focus on each service as a whole, not broken into components separated by where or how it is accessed or delivered, who does it, or how we do it,” says Lomax. Those customers traditionally considered to “belong” to the Outreach Department, for example, have also become the responsibility of all public services staff. Local branches are connecting with care facilities and homebound individuals in their areas.

Lomax has focused on customer service throughout her career. While working in Montana before the rise of the Internet, she realized a keen need to reach the state’s sparse and scattered population. She created “Big Sky Radio” in 1993, a call-in radio show about Montana literature, and secured funding through the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Its purpose, in her words, was “to create a “library/radio partnership to hold a book group of the airwaves.” Now known as StoryLines America, it has expanded into other regions. The American Library Association has become a partner, and it continues to be funded by NEH.

Lomax makes sure that customer service for her constituents is “more than a slogan but a way of life.”

Vitals

Georgia Lomax, Pierce County Library System, Tacoma

CURRENT POSITION Deputy Director

DEGREE MLS, University of Washington, 1984

WINNER Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Washington, 2005

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