Book Thing 24: United Breaks Guitars

Though the January “Book Thing” period has passed, I did want to comment on United Breaks Guitars.

Carroll tells his story and discusses his choices in an engaging way that readers can relate to.   Personally, I can relate to his story because my spouse has his own “United Breaks (Wheelchair)” story which happened a few years before Carroll’s guitar misadventure.

We visited Washington D.C. in 2007.  During the return flight through Chicago, Bob’s wheelchair was damaged.  I watched out the plane window as the baggage handlers loaded the chair and wondered if all would be well. When it was unloaded in Omaha, the body was badly banged up, and it was inoperable.  United’s on-site manager was unhelpful, unsympathetic and indifferent to the implications for Bob, who depended on the chair then.  Fast-forward to the end of the story. United was billed for the $3,000 worth of repairs and grudgingly paid.


What did you / what can librarians learn from this book?

A major theme of UBG is that connection, kindness, creativity and individuals matter.  Our patron’s needs are significant to them. Even if we’ve answered the question asked for the thousandth time, or wonder from where in left field, the question came, for the patron the question is important. More to the point, some of our patrons are more likeable than others.  Caring, kindness and patience must guide our interactions with our patrons – who aren’t just another tick mark in our daily stats but people like us who want to be valued.

How might the focus of this book impact library service?

Libraries are, in part, about education and service to others. We won’t be able to achieve 100% success every time we assist a patron but should be the goal. If we can’t help a patron, we should say so but also offer (when possible) other options. If a policy constrains what we are able to do, we should be honest and kind in saying so.

How might the focus of this book impact library users?

  • Social media is a powerful connectional tool. Learning how to use it constructively is essential.
  • One person can make a difference and bring about change.
  • Having a defined goal or objective is key to the journey of making a difference.
  • Ranting raving and being difficult will not get long-term positive results but creativity and a positive attitude will.
  • Using social media puts (and keeps us) on a very public “stage.”  Invest your time and energy in things that matter. Find a way you can make a difference for good.



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