Thursday, May 28, 2009

Help Me Help You: Library Logistics

This post concludes my series, Help Me Help You: What Librarians Wish Patrons Knew About the Library. Make sure you check out Part 1: Research and Reference and Part 2: Storytime. And here we go with

Part 3: Library Logistics

The library is not totally silent. Yes, we want you to do your homework here. Yes, many libraries have quiet areas or silent reading rooms. But what you've got to understand is that the group of chatting teens or giggling three-year-olds have just as much right to be at the library as you do. The library is for everyone and it's no longer always a silent space. If you're looking for a quiet place, I can probably recommend some places that tend to be quieter, but I will defend the teens' right to use the library, too.

If you reach a voicemail when you call, we will get back to you! But we can't get back to you if you don't leave a message. It's helpful if you leave a phone number and say it slowly and clearly. Along the same lines, if you IM and don't get a response, don't give up! The person checking the IM might be on the public service desk and helping another patron. Please be patient or if you can't wait, please call.

We appreciate when you cancel your holds for items you no longer need. We know that you want the new stuff and sometimes you (like me!) just can't wait. If you get the book from a different source, please cancel your hold. Many libraries order additional copies based on how many holds are on the item. And if you've got a book on hold that you don't intend to pick up, it's just sitting on the shelf when it could be in someone's hands.

It's okay if you are unable to come to a program you signed up for. Just please let us know! We understand that things come up, plans change, and you might be unable to make it. What you should understand is that there might be a waiting list for the program and/or we might base our prep and materials on how many people are registered. If you let us know that you can't make it, we can let someone else take your space. They will appreciate it and we will, too!

We want you to follow us into the stacks when we're showing you where something is. Our job is to show you where things are, not to fetch them for you. (Of course, if there is some reason you can't follow us into the stacks most librarians I know would be more than happy to help you out and pull things for you.) You never know what you might find on your venture into the stacks - maybe something on a nearby shelf that is an even better fit for your needs!

Librarians, this is the end of my Help Me Help You feature. This was going to be the end, but I'm working on Part 4: What Librarians Wish Teachers Knew About the Library. What should be on it? And please keep in mind that this is meant to actually be helpful, not as a venting of frustrations. What should teachers know about the library in order to use it to their full advantage? How can they help us help them? I've already got some suggestions from previous comments, but give me your input and I'll get Part 4 up early next week.

Librarians, what have I missed in my Help Me Help You posts? I've gotten lots of great additions in the comments so far, but what else?

Parents, teachers, readers, teens, kids, what would you like librarians to know about patrons? What are your questions for librarians? Maybe there will be a Part 5: What Patrons Wish Librarians Knew...

ETA (June 11): Do check out Part 4: Teacher Edition and Part 5: Wrapping it Up!