Thursday, November 6, 2008

Self-direction in libraries

There is an editorial in the latest edition of AL that strikes me as curious. I agree there is a "push" in libraries to move towards "the self-service model." She is talking about public libraries, which I am less familiar with. Certainly we have improved our signs and try to take advantage of technologies that allow students to do things without asking for help. However, we do this not because we don't want to help, but rather because they do not want to ask for help. Indeed, I'm at the reference desk this afternoon and just a little bored. I want to be either making rounds in faculty offices, or figuring out how to edit a sloppy Camtasia tutorial I created. I can't do the later because it's the sound that needs cleaned up and I don't want to make noise or be seen wearing headphones...

...but if only people would ask me for help, how I would be happy to stay late to get that other stuff done. I could make their lives so much easier, and their papers so much better, and often what's tripping them up is something fairly simple. I hate knowing people walk out of the library never to return because they didn't know how to read a call number.

I don't expect much to change at the reference desk soon, despite our marketing efforts. So until then, I will be looking for ways to help students find things on their own as I sit at the desk next to my big green sign that says "Please interrupt me. Your request is more interesting than what I'm doing."

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