"Third Place" ideas

Since moving to Columbus, my Starbucks addiction has been limited to my infrequent travels through the Port Columbus airport. It’s a good thing, I know - I get enough caffeine as it is with my morning brew. :)

Anyway, why bring this up? Well during my trip last week through CMH (airport code) I picked up a little card with a url ( while waiting on my latte. It got my attention...

My Starbucks Idea

A quick look at the site made me immediately think, "we should be doing this in libraries". Asking customers what they want and providing the means to react and give feedback online. But as I looked through the list of top All-Time suggestions, I realized that there’s an even better bigger opportunity here ... to capitalize on Starbucks already existing data.

I mean libraries have seen themselves in a “third place” (home & work/school being places 1 & 2) competition between Starbucks (& book stores) for years. So why not take a look at what customers are currently telling Starbucks what they want and value in a “third place” relationship.

A few themes standout in my glance at the top twenty … loyalty rewards are high on the list (VIP cards, point card) as is free wifi (many libraries have this one covered), green practices (stop trashing empty cards, reusable sleeves, etc), comfortable furnishings and personalization (auto ordering via swipe card).

There’s a wealth of info in these suggestions that we can use to relook at some of our own offerings in libraries. So if you can’t afford to create your own “My Library Idea” site, why not piggyback on a few of Starbucks' and investigate them.

Cross posted on ULC's Foresight 2020


Anonymous said...

That's a great post Helene. I would have never made the connection between a My Starbucks Idea and a Library Idea Bin but I can see how there is a ton of overlap. If you had a top ides all-time what would your patrons ask for?

Sidsel Bech-Petersen said...

Great idea to look into the Starbucks Ideas. In Denmark we actually have a national "My library idea" site which is exactly like "My Starbucks Idea" at: (in Danish it means "Our library").

Users have been posting a lot of different ideas - the most popular ones are:
- Digitize alle danish books - that would bring the libraries into the digital era
- Transfer: "Other users who like this book also likes..." to the physical library. Let users decide where the book should be placed and let the users make exhibitions.
- Make a where users can download movies and loan them for e.g. a week
- Make a commuter-library: Many people in Denmark are taking buses or trains to work. Make a service for those users by placing lending and delivering machines at train an bus stations.

I don't know if there will be any report in english - but if there will I'll let you know.

Cat Herself said...

Excellent thoughts! There's still so much we could do. I'd love to see our cards usable in a swiping thing, like credit card machines - I think it would be more intuitive to customers.

We had a great group discussion Friday night with Dewitt about the web stuff - I think he might have taken some notes on his BB. One idea included having the capacity of Netflix to keep a long waiting list for yourself, and to be able to rate your returns so that the catalog gets to know your likes and dislikes and can make better suggestions.