Sunday, July 6, 2008

Community Borrowers

I've been thinking a lot about how helpful academic librarians should be to people who aren't associated with the college. I became a librarian because I enjoy customer service and helping people. Furthermore, we have to provide reasonable access tot he government documents. I don't want to tell people we can't do something. Especially in the summer when we don't have other people who take priority.

However, we are a small college that is privately funded. We have a small staff and limited resources. And it seems that most of the community people who use our collection heavily that come to the attention of the staff are very weird and make staff and students uncomfortable.

I don't want to go into this in detail, but where to draw the line is an interesting question. I'm grateful when I hear about the issues public libraries have to deal with. If we have anyone making us at all uncomfortable, we call security and the person is escorted out. We don't need a good reason. This is particularly important during the school year when students are around and there are only student employees running the library in the evening. We are very protective of our students.

This past week, a group of home-schooled high schoolers wanted an instruction session and tour of the library. I think I would have been more willing to do this as they are prospective students, but the other librarians compromised and provided a brief tour, but no instruction and no reference. They sent them to the community college on the other side of town, since it is publicly funded. At least we did this, I would have been upset if we had not done anything, even though I know we can't be everything to everyone.

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