Got a LOT of praise yesterday after our new president's inauguration for the work my team and I have accomplished in the last 15 months in our small university library--and a big shout-out during the president's address where he committed $ to our humble abode. When I got there it was all kinds of fail... bad customer service, a facility that had been neglected for decades, etc. It wasn't just the big $ stuff (like the 1950s-era tables and chairs throughout the place, or basic lack of power and networking where it's needed, or a heating and cooling system that, well, isn't); it was the small stuff that really stood out, like broken bathroom exhaust fans (pee-u), sticking doors, messy paper signs everywhere, students who sat there texting when people had questions, and walls that hadn't been painted since 1956. Our website was a single embarrassing page, even though we have a really good selection of e-resources which of course no one knew about. 2/3 of our faculty (the adjuncts) were actively discouraged from using our library. 1/3 of the books were uncataloged. Our basic services (research help, instruction)... well, they were just plain bad. If you looked closely I swear the front door had a sign on it that said GO AWAY.
We're still on the journey, but I have a wonderful team (couple of remove-and-replaces if you know what I mean), and with a lot of imagination, heart, and dedication, we've turned this place around and keep on turning. The furniture is still old (2 weeks ago a table collapsed and bruised the shin of a student on the cross-country team... and no I didn't loosen the screws to make a point :-) ), the facility still inadequate, but we're remaking ourselves into the living room of the university and an essential service to our students and faculty, plus a center for celebrating literature and art, with events several times a month. And the bathroom exhaust fans work.
You can do a lot with paint, carpet, and good people. Like homebrewing, it ain't all about $. Though I will take the $!
I'll take a Pliny, please. Prost!