Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reference Service Management Issues 1

The business model for a library is not the same as a business; we can not move people, objects, and information at a pace like a manufacturing company or retail store. We do not receive direct payment for service. We can not easily measure productivity. We may not even know when we have succeeded. Even so, we mush not forget that the reference desk is a point of customer service. Customers, patrons, users or any other name we use for people requesting our services are more demanding of quick answers than in the days before computers, but the mechanism of learning has not changed. Wisdom still requires the gathering, assimilation and analysis of data and information.

The reference manager as any teacher, parent, or business manager must be aware that there are individual learning styles of both their staff and patrons. Some people need greater detail than others. While we all learn with all our senses, some people favor information visually while others favor hearing. Some people never learn until they have multiple stimuli. Because of this service delivery models change must keep pace. The reference desk is a point of personal contact, but other contacts may be online, phone calls, chats, lessons, and documents.

Staff must be able to take on new roles from the traditional print based services. Change is continuous and improvement is always possible. Staff must address new needs, leverage technology, and still be friendly and helpful. All this helps to maximize resources of all kinds including staff, collections, and physical space.

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