Sunday, October 30, 2016

Library customer service: Are you aware of your library’s resources?

Cynthia M. Parkhill's cartoon Bitstrips avatar stands with left arm resting on counter with books in it.  With her right hand, she makes an open handed gesture toward the books behind her at left. The caption reads, 'Welcome to the library!'

I’ve written before about the librarian’s “customer service” hat, and the ways that customer service manifests in my work in a library.

Today I want to address the importance of familiarity with a library’s resources among people working in the library — because you can’t recommend a resource to a customer if you don’t know about it yourself.

A while ago, I wanted to access an industry periodical — and the library seemed the logical place to find a magazine about librarianship. So I asked if my local public library carried a subscription to this magazine.

The person behind the counter said no.

Fortunately for my search, I didn’t end my quest with a visit to the physical library. I went online and, from the library’s website, I accessed a subscription database that was available to me and all card-holding members of that library.

Once logged in, I quickly located the library magazine I needed.

But here’s the thing ... the person behind the counter made no mention of the online database. Her awareness of resources available through our library went no further than the physical building.

How many library customer-service exchanges have had unsuccessful outcomes because the person on-duty was ill-informed about the library’s resources?

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