Last week in class, we presented (and participated in) our one-shot workshops. Despite the tiny room we were scheduled in, it was a very enjoyable (and informative) time! I was impressed with the diversity of both topics and formats that my classmates came up with, as well as the enthusiasm with which we all participated, despite the grueling schedule.
Two of the workshops in particular stood out to me:
The other workshop that really has had me thinking over the past week was the final workshop, on “how to have the ‘eBook conversation’ with patrons.” This workshop was focused on ways that libraries have attempted to communicate concerns/issues in the library/publisher eBook ‘war’ to their users; the workshop also included an activity which saw participants making their own example signs for communicating these issues with patrons. This is also a very important issue in library-user communications, and one which is riddled with extreme viewpoints. It is also, in my opinion, extra difficult because of the nature of the question itself. The issues at hand is eBook access – but should we necessarily attempt to communicate this information virtually? My opinion, which I didn’t get to speak about because of time constraints, is that this issue is a perfect opportunity for libraries and librarians to do the work of community building with their users. Signs to inform users are wonderful, and for some users, signs can address all of their concerns. However, I think this is an opportunity for librarians to flex their face-to-face communication skills as well.
Currently, one of my part-time jobs is at Trader Joe’s. Whenever an issue comes up that could be of concern to our shoppers, we may post a small sign near the product in question, but more than that, we make sure that all of our employees understand the issue at hand, and are comfortable communicating with our shoppers about this issue (or at least that they know who to go get who is comfortable with this). This type of communication not only builds shoppers’ confidence that we care enough to talk to them individually (and that we know what we are working with), but also lets shoppers know that we are more than just a store. In the same way, I think that by following similar face-to-face, community-building communication practices in our libraries, we can help to build users’ confidence that libraries are more than just a place to get books and DVDs. As Matos, Matsuoka-Motely, and Mayer (2010) said in their article “The Embedded Librarian Online or Face-to-Face: American University’s Experiences,” virtual librarianship can be helpful to a point, but it is imperative for the future of health of libraries that users learn that librarians are friendly, approachable and helpful people who know more than just how to find books.