Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"The neverending reference interview of life"

Andy Woodworth, a librarian for the Burlington County Library System in New Jersey, has an interesting blog called Agnostic, maybe: the neverending reference interview of life.

Andy says that his title "comes from a belief that a healthy dose of questioning leads to deeper meaning and understanding.... I believe that the total sum of human knowledge is a drop in the bucket as it relates to the rest of the universe."

Andy's most recent blog post, "The Reference Singularity," is worth reading in its entirety...especially for me, since it addresses my perennial struggle to "give good interview" when I don't feel like it.

Here's a key section of the post:

In my mind, good or bad reference experiences do not hinge on the resolution of the inquiry, but on the type of customer service a patron receives. How much does the result matter when the experience was unsavory or unpleasant versus engaging or personable? I don’t think there is much of a stretch required to prove this contention, either.

There are examples within our own lives in which the overall experience of the encounter have made us more or less likely to use a service, store, contact, or material. While outcome may have bearing as to whether or not a person uses reference services in the future, I think it is a minor factor in comparison to the impressions formed from the encounter....

For me, I know I can’t answer every item that comes across the reference desk. It’s simply not possible. However, the one thing I can control and do for each interaction is make it an exemplary experience.

I treat them the way I would want to be treated if I was in their shoes: professional, personable, and completely engaged in their curiosity or need, no matter how big or small. I may not win every round of the reference desk question roulette, but I hope to win the patron over to try again in the future.

And that’s what I love reference.

Well said.

No comments: