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Beestrum 3 June 2010 Service Report 2 of 3: Pubic Library The CPL Logan Square branch can be found at 3030 W. Fullerton Avenue. According to the CPL website, the Logan Square public library branch was expanded and relocated in 2005. This branch’s featured collections include Spanish language materials. Their facilities include a conference room (capacity 150). Logan Square public library is readily accessible by CTA and neighbors 19 schools. What Happened? Upon entering Logan Square public library, I did not see anyone readily available to assist me with my reference question. The library employees at the circulation desk seemed very busy. I lingered in silence. Once the line at the circulation/reference desk was gone, a lady, Kimberly* (*name changed for discretion), asked, “Have you been helped yet?” I replied, “No, I was just looking for some books about graphics and web design.” Kimberly led me to a computer catalog and sort of did her own search thing (typing in keywords, limiting search results, checking availability) in order to find an appropriate section. She kept the conversation going as we walked to the section, alerting me to the fact that some of their books were checked out, but that I could search through the catalog and find any item to put on hold at Logan Square public library. I asked Kimberly, “Are you a librarian?” She affirmed my suspicions and informed me that she had completed Dominican University’s program a few years ago. I told that her I might be interested in librarianship. She encouraged me to pursue information about the program and look into the Illinois State library training grants. Kimberly told me that these grants help with GSLIS tuition, if you work in an Illinois public library for a few years after graduation. 1
In the TK section of nonfiction (Library of Congress Classification), Kimberly browses shelves, thinking aloud to herself and commenting on titles - for my benefit. Kimberly, then, led me to another, related section (books about HTML) without even consulting the library catalog. We did not find much in either of the sections. She suggested that even though the graphic design software books required special, expensive software to use, I still might be able to pull some design inspiration from their pages. Kimberly led me back to the computer catalog and encouraged me to “drive” while she looked on. I typed in some keywords, chose an item, and said, “This book seems to be close to what I am looking for because the topics are related.” Kimberly said, “You know, you can copy and paste any of these topic words into the search bar and that will help you find books about that topic.” Kimberly patiently looked on as I searched for items, providing me with useful search and access advice along the way and offering additional information about library services. She briefly walked away to assist another patron. I continued to search the catalog. After a few minutes, Kimberly returned and asked, “How are we doing over here?” She continued to help me search the catalog until I told her that I had some call numbers written down and was going to browse the stacks. Kimberly wished me good luck and told me to come back for more assistance, if needed. Evaluation of Service Based on Contributing Factors and Readings Kimberly performed her librarian duties with good energy, a positive attitude, and friendly smiles. Her positive attitude is a great asset to the Logan Square public library as “library users know (and respond in kind) when service is given enthusiastically (or grudgingly)” (Radford 112). Enthusiastic service with a smile is one method librarians can employ to ensure that “the user is satisfied with the interaction” (Miller 219). 2
Immediately after mentioning my interest in the library science field, Kimberly provided me with information and encouragement in pursuing an MLIS. This exemplifies the eighth entry in the ALA Code of Ethics, which states that librarians should encourage “all library staff… to assist those entering the profession” (Cassell and Hiremath 11). Although this information was not related to my initial query, Kimberly took the time to provide me with some information about librarianship. Kimberly found another section related to my query without consulting the catalog. This tells me that Kimberly makes an attempt to “consciously refresh familiarity with resources” (Cassell and Hiremath 42) available in her library’s collection. This knowledge surely helps Kimberly provide better reference service to Logan Square public library patrons. In addition, Kimberly provided some user instruction on searching for and locating library materials. This satisfies the second criteria in Miller’s goal outcomes of reference service, “the user learn something about how to find information.” Kimberly believed that I needed assistance learning how to use a library catalog, so she provided me with some terrific advice (using topic phrases in a search, limiting search results using sidebar facets, and placing books on reserve using inter-library loan) for both searching for and acquiring relevant information resources. The instruction that Kimberly provides library patrons in this instance is necessary to empower patrons on their future, independent information quests. Kimberly “offers information about how to use the library that may be helpful to the user in the future” (Cassell and Hiremath 20) when she promotes services such as inter-library loan and the use of the library’s online catalog – indirectly encouraging library patrons to return. This instruction could have improved had Kimberly formally communicated a planned search strategy before entering keywords into the search bar, however she may have tailored her user instruction towards the methods most people use when searching Google. 3
Although Kimberly did make some creative suggestions about how to use books that may not seem relevant to the untrained library user, she did not show me how I might find the information I was looking for inside of the books. In this instance, Kimberly did not ensure that the user “learns something about how to evaluate information” (Miller 219). Perhaps I am a fantastic actress and played so clueless at the library catalog that Kimberly decided to focus her user instruction on using the catalog, rather than the user’s evaluation of information resources. Had Kimberly been able to locate any resources that she deemed relevant to my query, she may have assisted me in locating the information in the book using indexes or tables of contents. Kimberly’s positive attitude towards library patrons may go a long way, however she neglected some of the most basic components of the reference interview (Cassell and Hiremath). For example, Kimberly did much of the talking (may be interpreted as user instruction or assumptions made about the patron’s query) and did not ask too many questions to clarify my exact information needs. Kimberly did not restate/rephrase my query. Librarians must do this to ensure that patrons know that everyone is on the same page about the patron’s information needs. Kimberly did not ask open-ended questions in order to negotiate the question (Cassell and Hiremath 18). This step is necessary to “work with the user to better formulate the question” (Cassell and Hiremath 20) and is also an important part of user instruction. She had no idea about the context of my information problem i.e. was my information need for an assignment or for my personal interest? Kimberly did follow-up by asking, “How are we doing over here?” This gesture demonstrated to me that the librarian did not forget that she was helping me search the catalog and that the librarian cares that I find a way to obtain some information, even if Logan Square public library did not have the materials (Cassell and Hiremath 21). Finally, Kimberly took care to ensure that the reference interview ended on a positive note. She avoided using confusing library jargon, she made sure that I ended the reference 4
interview, and she made it very clear that she was available to help, if I thought of another question. Although I did not find an immediate solution to my information problem from Kimberly, the librarian, I did feel comfortable and welcome as I searched the Logan Square public library for resources. Works Cited Cassell, Kay A., and Uma Hiremath. Reference and Information Services in the 21st Century: An Introduction. London: Facet, 2006. Print. Miller, Jonathan. "Management - Quick and Easy Reference Evaluation: Gathering Users' and Providers' Perspectives." Reference & User Services Quarterly. 47.3 (2008): 218-222. Radford, M.L. "A Personal Choice Reference Service Excellence." Reference and User Services Quarterly. 48.2 (2008): 108-115.
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