4 to 7

Where ARE my notes? It was a slow night. And that was good.

Woman hobbles up to the reference desk (yes, there are crutches) and asks for a hardiness scale. I responded, “Oh why do you want one of those?” Measurements are the worst things to find. We have Mental Measurements Yearbook online, so that’s no biggie. After a bit of reference interview dilly-dallying I decide to google hardiness scale, only I spell it heartiness at first. Google, bless it’s heart, corrects me. I find exactly what student wants. She is thrilled and wonders why she didn’t find it. I didn’t point out my spelling error or question her whether she made it, too.

So she asks whether we have rewards cards. “Uh, no. What are those?” I reply. She tells me this story: She’s a nursing student doing her clinical (or NOT, as the case is because of her foot that is in a walking boot thus necessitating the crutches) at MSHA, the regional health consortium–basically our hospital. Apparently they have a program where customers reward good service by handing out reward cards to workers. She was that delighted with my library skillz. Once a person accumulates 40-60 rewards cards they redeem them for a day’s pay or other gifts.

Naturally, I took this one to my Dean and her assistant director in an email:

Dear Darling Dean,

The hardiness scale question that marked the transition between your time at the reference desk this afternoon and mine, turned out to be quite easy to answer, in the end, and spurred something interesting as well, as you’ll see…

While talking to the young lady whose question I answered, I grew excited by information she shared. She’s a nursing student. When I helped her so efficiently and exactly—after the initial hem-hawing and pooh-pooing of a hardiness scale that you overheard (because aren’t measurements the worst things to try to find?),– she asked if we had reward cards or smart cards or something like that [because she wanted to give me one!], and I said no, and asked her what those were. She said MSHA has a program where you [patients? Staff?] give someone a reward card who impresses you or gives great customer service. After receiving 40-60 reward cards, each person turns them in for a day’s pay, or some other type of goody, at the end of the year, or however long they want to ferret them away. Interestingly, I’ve encountered this concept in my recent research [portion excised]: Zappos, the online shoe retailer, lets workers reward each other with $50 when one witnesses a skill or an attitude or an innovative approach to customer service.

While I know that financial recompense [foundation funds?] is not so much an option for us in the library/university, this reward system seems like a possible way to stimulate improved customer service in the library, improved interaction with students/staff/faculty—all whom we call patrons, and as a way to spark a small bit of competition between service points, library staff, and library faculty. I see it as a nice morale booster; which we need during such topsy-turvy times as these. Documenting the accumulation of points could serve a fair way of distributing any merit pay that may come our way annually.

If this notion piques your interest at all, please let me know and I’ll gladly spend time developing a proposal with possible procedures or rewards to present at a faculty/staff meeting to determine whether our team is interested in revving up their skills for a such an endeavor.

Your Best AdjLibrarian

Mind you, I worked up this note in between the questions streaming in.

So a young fellow bearing a slight resemblance to Jerry O’Connell stopped by the reference desk asking for how to figure out what the folks in Colorado Springs, CO are paying for a gallon of milk. I mentioned the salary/cost-of-living calculators I use (homefair), but said I didn’t think you could do that for goods. Smart man already did the cost-of-living calculations on his own. I spent thirty minutes or more while we worked through the steps of solving his problem. We compiled a list of goods to compare like: milk, eggs, bread, 5 lbs. of sugar, and cigarettes (that was his contribution). Then I introduced him to switchboard. We searched Colorado Springs for grocery stores and he wrote down phone numbers for 5 or 6 different chains. He asked “Why don’t they have Kroger’s?” And I told him that Kroger is mainly a southeastern chain. But, we found SuperTarget, SuperWalmart, & Sam’s, all which we have here and would provide an “objective” baseline. Then we threw in a few other CO grocery store names that popped up. Needless to say, he was happy for my help and input. I was delighted to give it. What lengths he went to in finding data for his paper. Wow. That’s dedication.

Lord, then there was the problem with the Atlas. It was not where it was supposed to be. The student needing it was so earnest. And in my pre-FMLA frame of mind, I would have walked him over to the shelf, saw it was not there, shared my regrets, told him that maybe someone else was using it, and to check back later. I did all that, but then pushed my reference superpower skills just a bit further. I checked the catalog and there was no mention of an alternate location, but I brought him to the Atlas case, searched through its dusty shelves, and lo and behold, there it was.

A fellow wanted to borrow tape. Fine. Have at it. Glad to satisfy your office supply needs.

Around that time I was tremendously sidetracked because the Dean came down from on high, on the way out of the building, to tell me to check my email. The message lay there like a rattlesnake: an exploratory committee is being formed to determine whether the library, eLearning, and IT should be merged upon the retirement of our Dean. My energies were re-directed into a literature search and writing of talking points for and against such a plan.

Alas, the questions came on.

Why can’t she find the American Journal of Medical Quality? Well, we don’t have that in print or online, after a quick do-si-do with sfx. Then I explained the nature and procedure of ILL.

Then someone wanted books about the Cold War in the 1950s, thank you. And do you have them online, because I don’t want to have to deal with a fusty, musty book? Right. Directed his attention to netLibrary. Showed him the results. Commanded him to set up his free account in the library so he could access netLibrary off-campus. Then I thrust an LC number into his hands and told him to browse the shelves, for something real might capture his interest.

Oh dear, it seems that I’m almost always excited anymore at the reference desk because our links to databases (golly, the link resolver??) actually work and make it less of a pain to click to access what students need. Sad sad lady student could not access what she needed. Can’t recall why, now, though. The article had to do with ethical decisions in social work practice. I found it, asked her if she had a USB to save it to. Or would she rather I print the article, or email a copy to her? She wanted a hard copy. I printed it. She was happy.

I like making people happy. Become a librarian. The simplest things make them happy. Connecting them with the information they need. Sigh.

Must keep all that in mind as we fret and worry about a possible merger though. That isn’t happy news.

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2 thoughts on “4 to 7

  1. Pingback: four months « adj.librarian

  2. Re: the merger: not all of them are unhappy, and in fact, a lot of them are incredibly awesome and productive. I’m at one of those places – let me know if you want to chat about it.

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