A post in the PVLD Director’s Blog – The Intimidating Library (hey look – a library director’s blog! That’s pretty cool!!) the director of PVLD (I couldn’t find the name of the library or the director on her about page – lots of biographical information, but no basic info… UPDATE: The mystery is solved! I’ve had two comments that have given me the name of the mysterious library director. From the director herself: “For the record my name is Kathy Gould, and I am Director of the Palos Verdes Library District on the beautiful Palos Verdes Peninsula south of Los Angeles.”) tells of a conversation she had with a citizen of her community. This person confessed that she hadn’t been to the library in a long time because she was intimidated by the systems (OPACs, generally) and didn’t want to appear stupid by going to a desk and asking for help with something she felt she should know how to do. From the article:
She wasn’t talking about a generally unwelcoming environment, or unfriendly staff. She was talking about a set of systems and service models that discourage her from even trying to use our services.
One of the solutions this director proposed was to unchain staff from the desks – roaming reference, if you will. That takes the intimidation factor out of going to a desk and asking someone “official” for help. Another solution I thought of while reading this was weekly, informal, no-reservations-required OPAC classes (at least until we get an OPAC that isn’t completely unintuitive to use) that last maybe 15 minutes at a set time (or times) throughout the week. A reference librarian can be on hand to go through the process of searching, finding and checking out a book to anyone who cares to show up. This wouldn’t have to be completely in-depth – just the basics. The woman this director was talking about was using a Blackberry during the time she sat with the director – a gentle introduction to the system is all someone like her would need. More formal, longer, classes have their place as well for those who have *still* never used a computer, but for those who just need a little push, short “introductions” may be just the thing.