13 January 2006


For a while now I’ve been telling students in my workshops to “get out of your office” or “get out of the library,” that is, go to where your clients are. Now there’s a public library that has figured this out.

The reference librarians in the Mukiteo and Lynnwood libraries, in Everett, Washington (USA) are now walking around the library rather than sitting at the reference desk waiting for customers to come to them. They’ve found that reference questions are up as much as 25 percent.

I have also read of librarians being equipped with headsets and wireless phone so that they can go out and show customers to a source, while still being able to answer incoming calls. They can also answer a telephone inquiry from the source, without having to take the book back to the reference desk, providing faster service.

Some people are reluctant to come to the reference desk (or librarian’s desk) to ask a question—and admit that they don’t know or can’t find something. In fact, there are people in every organization that will probably never come into the library, but will ask the librarian a question if they see her or him in the hall. Build it and they will come does not necessarily apply to libraries. So, get up, walk around, see if your customers need help, and give it to them where they are. Better service, more satisfied clients, and a more appreciated librarian—that’s what it’s all about, right?

Sheets, Bill, Librarians on the Move, The Herald, 13 January 2006, http://www.heraldnet.com/stories/06/01/13/100loc_b1librarians001.cfm

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