the "good stapler"?

Today I continued working towards my second assignment. Part of it involves doing a shadowing session in a library at the reference/information desk. This required me to walk over to our library building on campus and take a seat behind the desk with the librarians. Usually I stand on the “client” side and ask questions. The hour that I sat observing confirmed a lot of what we have been learning during the first five weeks of the term. Librarians in the 21st century have to be experts in technology. And by that I mean, they don’t just have to know how to use technology to help library users find good and relevant information. They have to know how to troubleshoot the technology in the library for the users. There were questions about the photocopier, the printer, the self checkout machine, the coffee machine and the vending machine. There was even a question about where the “good stapler” was. As it is a regional campus, resources in terms of staff are limited. With five regional campuses CQUni works with a floating collection. That means every day there are requests from staff and students at other campuses for books in our library. They are sent overnight by courier (as long as the request has been made by 12pm). And then there are books received from other campuses that have been requested here. They stay at this campus until someone decides they want to borrow them. None of this completed by administration staff. It is all done by the librarians themselves. I also observed the very beginnings of the system whereby university alumni have access to the library for free for the rest of their lives. I was impressed when I saw QUT offered this service and it is in the initial stages of being rolled out at our institution. I found out as well that members of the community can join the library for 100 dollars a year (which is pretty good I think) giving them access to the hard copy collections and some of the digital material as well. Interestingly, the one question about a book (the student knew the title but not the other) but solved by a fellow student before the librarian had the chance to even sit down at her computer. It’s a whole new view sitting behind the desk that’s for sure. What was slightly scary was that as soon as you sit there people approach you to ask questions. I didn’t know the answer to any of them. That’s right…not even how to refill the water in the coffee machine or which one was the “good stapler”. Clearly, I have a lot to learn.

Librarian 2.0

Here’s an interesting little article that came from this week’s reading about the new and improved “Librarian 2.0” including the qualities this mutation of Librarian 1.0 must develop.

And here’s another one by a futurist who claims that writing is a technology with a limited lifespan. I’m always a little skeptical of futurists. It’s a fairly grand claim to make that writing will disappear but then who I am to say? I’m not a futurist that’s for sure.

Anyway, it has some interesting background on the daVinci collection as an archive and it’s nice to think that libraries will adapt and remain central to our culture.

Wendy’s Grandma goes to the library

Last week my mother told me a disturbing story about my Grandmother and the library. Each week my mum takes my Grandma (now 89) to our Regional Council Library. She is highly indiscriminate in her choice of books. Just about anything will do and usually in the space of 10 minutes has an armful ready to go to the checkout desk. It’s about the same amount of time my mother has taken to fight her way into a position to be able to search through the DVDs. And then, they have to leave. Because with my grandma, there is no waiting….unless it’s for her.

I digress.

Anyway, last week my mother told me something particularly interesting. My Grandma decided that one of the books she had borrowed ( I know not which) was chock-a-block full of incorrect punctuation. Being an imperious ex-schoolteacher she decided that this simply would not do. So she got out her biro (yes that’s right her biro, not her pencil) and went right through the book correcting the punctuation. Her reasoning – if she didn’t do that then the next person to read might think that wrong was right.

It was during this discussion that I discovered something else very interesting about how many of the elderly library members use the library. They borrow a book, read it, and then before returning it they write their initials in the inside cover. That way, when they go back to borrow some more they can check if they have read their selections before…particularly if their memories are starting to fade a little. Apparently, my grandmother engages in this behaviour as well. While being quite an ingenious tactical scheme, I couldn’t help wondering what the librarians thought about all this scribbling in their collection. And, what else is going in within the library system that we don’t know about in terms of user behaviour?