On 2/21/13 9:00 AM, Joe Hourcle wrote:
> We had a policy of trying our best *not* to go into the computer labs, 
> because if you did, you'd get 6+ people who suddenly had questions 
> they wanted to ask ... but couldn't have been bothered to actually go 
> to the office to ask. When I first started, someone who went to go add 
> paper to a printer might not come back for 30+ minutes. 

OMG, this is like a formula for "non-service". There was an era where 
libraries were taking over computer services because the computer 
service folks had no idea what the word "service" meant. If people in 
the labs have that many questions, that's a need that must be filled for 
them to learn what they are there trying to learn. Avoiding them is a 
terrible "solution."

But this is the case also in libraries. At my local public library, the 
reference desk is on the 2nd floor and I almost never seen any patrons 
there, just bored reference librarians. This doesn't mean that folks all 
over the library don't have questions they'd like to ask, but getting to 
the reference desk takes effort. I did a blog post where I said that I 
want the library to be like the Apple store (oh, and I want the library 
to have Apple's $bazillions) -- with people who can answer the questions 
mingling with the people who might have questions. Some science museums 
do this, with roving "Explainers" among the exhibits. *sigh* What we 
couldn't do if we had the $$ and the imagination.


> (I realize that this policy likely won't work for a library, though) 
> Our follow-up policy was not the answer questions in the labs, and 
> make them go to the office so they don't cut in line if there were 
> people queued up. ... so I completely agree about needing something 
> that's not fixed to a single location. If you can make it beep on 
> demand, that's even better. ("oops, sorry, I've got to go, I've been 
> summoned back to the desk") If you're going to do something that's 
> computer-based, I'd be inclined to think about some sort of phone app, 
> or even part of a more comprehensive tool to assist in other things 
> that you might need while you're in the stacks trying to help someone. 
> -Joe 

Karen Coyle
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