Friday, July 08, 2005

Can you resist?

Perhaps the most amazing claim is "You will get the hang of it immediately."

And you know what? I did.

(But is it accessible? I wonder how this works with adaptive technologies.)

What would a library or an OPAC look like if it were this intuitive to use?

[Patron has disconnected]

Today I was looking for some government info on the web. Specifially, some forms from a municipality on the opposite coast. I poked around a government website for a bit, got frustrated, then I had a flash of brilliance...why not see if the local library has a chat reference service? Maybe they can help?

14:18 2005/07/08 Librarian: Hello, welcome to [ask a librarian chat reference]. What is your question?

14:18 2005/07/08 Patron: hi. i'm wondering if i need a form to [something for which a bureaucrat would probably want a form]?

14:19 2005/07/08 Librarian: Please call [phone number] for assistance.

Huh? Am I supposed to recognize that number?

[brief google interlude]

Okay, I get it. A government agency. But that doesn't look like what I want.

14:19 2005/07/08 Librarian: OK?

Um, no. I don't really want to make a long distance phone call to some government number where I'll probably spend a half hour on hold. I came to you online because I want to find something online. "Um, excuse me. Can you help me find a video on sharks?" "Over there we have some lovely books on sharks." "Um, but..."

14:20 2005/07/08 Patron: can you give me any more information than that?

14:20 2005/07/08 Librarian: Sorry, no. The people at [same phone number] can help you. We don't handle legal questions.

Librarian side of brain: Oh yeah, I knew that.

Customer side of brain: Jeez, that's really unhelpful.

LSOB: Never fear. When all else fails, try a little reference interview. What is it that you're really looking for? What do you want to find?

CSOB: I want to find an online form for a permit.

LSOB: See, that wasn't so hard.

14:21 2005/07/08 Patron: okay, can you help me find permit application forms on the web?

14:23 2005/07/08 Librarian: I will send you a Web link shortly. Please
minimize your browser to see the chat screen.

14:23 2005/07/08 Librarian: http://[municipal government web portal]

CSOB: grumble grumble

14:24 2005/07/08 Patron: i looked on this site earlier and all i could
find was construction permits.

14:24 2005/07/08 Librarian: I'm sorry. Again, the folks at [guess what? same phone number] should be able to help you.


[Patron has disconnected]

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Whorls, arches, and loops, oh my.

This story caught my eye because of the recent kerfuffle over the Naperville Public Library's decision to install fingerprint scanners on their internet computers. Looks like the German airline Lufthansa is about to join Naperville in embracing biometrics as a security measure. Makes Sherri's thoughts on this over at schwagbag seem especially prescient ("way to go for making libraries about as inviting and easy to use as a trip through airport security screening").

Opinions about biometrics aside, what really bugs me about all this is the nagging feeling that libraries are caught up in some kind of catch 22 when it comes to experimenting with new technologies. Especially ones that are typically considered germane to other lines of work. Why does it feel like when libraries are among the first to adopt some new gizmo, we must be doing something shady, but when we wait for something to be tested and approved, we're hopelessly behind the curve?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I love being a statistic.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Ooh, this was fun. At first, I thought I might be skewing the stats because I haven't posted much, but then again, if I had to wager, my hunch is that lacklustre bloggers are the overwhelming majority.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Thanks, girlie.

I just found a DVD for an older gentleman who kept calling me love. Strangely, it didn't flush my cheeks with rage the way it usually does when someone I'm helping refers to me in the female diminutive. To exercise my arcane librarian skills, I could try to classify the various usage styles of said diminutives and in so doing, attempt to clarify why some raise my hackles while the others makes me glad to run down the stairs, then up the stairs, then down the stairs, to find you the Tom Cruise movie you were looking for. I suppose the main difference is that the ones that don't bother me don't feel diminutive at all.

Secretly, I've always wanted to be the kind of person who can casually refer to strangers as darling (or perhaps even darlin') without raising eyebrows. But I can't. I think it has something to do with my bland, pacific northwest accent, or the fact that I was raised in a climate that lacks humid summers. For the gentleman who called me love it was reflex, as unstoppable as a sneeze. It always sounds deliberate and forced coming from my lips, even more so since I usually get stage fright just as I'm about to say it.