I am an online reference librarian. I started a couple of weeks ago, and have been intensely learning chat and email.
Yesterday, I went live and started to answer students’ emails. Today, I got my first thank you! It made me feel really good. I was really worried about clarity in my emails, but I said,”I am a librarian, and I can rock this!.”
I miss sitting and laughing with the students at Wright. Of course, I am still helping students, and it is just as rewarding.
I emailed a student, and she decided to call me. I guess she said forget this email I need to talk to a person. Some people are like that, and others prefer to chat and email.
Today, the library is buzzing. The study tables and group study rooms are full, and almost every computer is occupied. I came in the door this morning and there were students at the reference desk and circulation. This rarely happens, because there are so few classes held on Friday. Next week, is the last week of the semester, and everyone is trying to finish those last few assignments.
A student was going around campus asking random people to record a happy birthday message for his friend. So, I wished her a happy birthday. Immediately after that a student comes to the circulation looking for a book on reserve for her class. She does not know the name of the book, the course name or number, or her professor’s name. I told her to get some more info, or go find her instructor to get the information. The professor comes back and gives us the title of book, but we cannot find it. It was shelved incorrectly. A student comes to the desk and insists I help her. She refuses the other librarian’s help. I guess I helped her before, and she liked the result. Her paper is due at 11pm. She does not have a thesis. So, I have to dig it out of her. In class they discussed U.S. influence over Brazil’s economy, and she read it in her textbook. I went to the textbook on reserve, and showed her the bibliography. We found some New York Times articles in the database, and books on our shelf. (I was shocked to find the books.) Since, we had some keywords we continued to search the databases, and found an abundant amount of information. As I was typing this blog posting a returning student looking for a Spanish-English dictionary wants to know if we still have it behind the desk. It was re-shelved, and he did know how to use the library catalog or find books using the LC call number system. He was not happy. I made him search the library catalog, and find the book on the shelf. He was frustrated, but in the end he thanked me. I think he was happy he did it on his own. I told him I am about teaching students how to find materials, and not just giving it to them. Now, I have an APA/MLA workshop. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!
Last week, a student came to me looking for an article in the New York Times. He needed to use the microfilm. I told him to look at the index and identify the reels he needed. Then, when he found the reels he should come back to me, and I will show him how to load the microfilm reader. Maybe 20 minutes or so went by, and I went to check on the student. He was gone!
Yesterday, he returned to the library. I asked him a series of questions. He said yes to everything I asked him. He was ready to use the reels. He picked the reel, and I helped him load the microfilm reader. I was having some technical problems so I enlisted some help from my kind colleagues. Turns out he never looked at the index, and used Wikipedia. I asked him if he used the index, and he said he did not know he needed to use it. It was amazing. A few people told me I was an “authority figure” and he did not want to tell me he needed help. This left me baffled. You come to a librarian for help. Why not tell me you did not do something or you do not understand? I work very hard at being approachable. He came back a few hours later looking for something else. I learned a little bit about him, and asked my questions differently. Image from: http://www.microfiche-microfilm-scanning.co.uk/microfiche-reader.html