Sunday, May 22, 2011

Revamping Reference | The User Experience #Libraries

By Aaron Schmidt

May 1, 2011

Our profession has known for a long time that the traditional reference model is flawed. Constance Mellon coined the term library anxiety in 1986, reporting that students literally felt shame when approaching librarians for help. Yikes. That’s a strong feeling, one we don’t want librarians to evoke.

Nonetheless, the typical effort to improve the reference user experience has been meager. While many of us have been through customer sensitivity training, reminding people about how they should behave is no replacement for strategic hiring practices and considered design. Even genuinely friendly and caring librarians will be approached less if they’re hidden behind the typical imposing and unfriendly reference desk. The library literature is filled with articles about roving reference, yet at the majority of libraries I visit I still find reference librarians sitting behind hulking desks peering into computer screens, essentially ignoring what’s going on around them.

Read the complete article at Library Journal

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