Andy Priestner and Elizabeth Tilley provided their own spin on the movement for personalized service at (mostly academic) libraries, modeling them after boutique hotels.
In a 2010 paper, they railed against centralized decision making, arguing that librarians serving smaller libraries (or specific departments) are better left making decisions on how to spend resources based on the relationships they make with patrons.
This autonomy allows librarians to be more customer focused:
A pro-active boutique service will spot needs and trends first and apply techniques used elsewhere quickly and easily. Such a service quickly becomes a landmark to a new student anxious to establish themselves. Creative staff are at the core of the boutique service, and they are should be able to demonstrate service impact and a significant return on financial investment, particularly in the current financial climate.
The boutique model, which Priestner and Tilley admit isn't groundbreaking, relies on personalized, highly-tailored service and subject specializations. The idea is not to spend time serving (sometimes languishing) collections, but serve how people are actually using information resources.
Lynn Silipigni Connaway updates the argument in a recent paper.
"Something that often is difficult for library and information professionals to comprehend is that the majority of the population does not use libraries to get information," writes Connaway in Meeting the Expectations of the Community: The Engagement-Centered Library.
"If this is the case, why not gear library services and systems to those who actually use them?"
Thus, Priestner and Tilley attempt to move Librarians away from a "one-size fits all" service contract.
In applying this [boutique] model, establishing distinct boundaries between constituent parts would be the most complex task. Clear definitions of roles with clear avenues forinformation to flow would be vital. The model challenges the current thinking of how to manage university libraries in this time of financial crisis. It is a distinct paradigm shift, and it would take vision to embark on embedding it within an institution. In the model presented, there is no piecemeal development.
...Each part of the model is distinct and yet part of a whole, dependent on, but contributing to, the whole. A boutique library service model gives us the ability to provide specialist, personalised services not possible in an anonymous, centralised system. It is partnership in action.