This semester, I am very excited to be doing a job sharing stint with the reference department. This means I get a weekly 2.5 hour shift at the reference desk, and will likely also pick up some web reference responsibilities.
I did my first shift yesterday, what follows are some brief observations on the types of questions I answered:
- I helped a community user scan a bunch of stuff into PDF. Luckily, I attended a session on this just the week before, since every scanner and associated software is different.
- I tried to help a user print a PDF 6 per sheet. I didn’t really succeed here, because although I did figure out the 6 per sheet and duplexing functions, I couldn’t get it oriented the way the patron wanted. Frustratingly, there was no way to preview your print, so the only way to test it was to actually print out the pages, which the user had to pay for. I need to check out the printer functions a bit more in depth.
- I directed a girl to the public library (and told her what she’d need for a card) to find some audio books to listen to during an evening job. Learned that our library doesn’t carry audio books. Also, used Tina Fey’s “Bossy Pants” as my illustrative audio book when demonstrating the pub lib’s search, and explained that she could place a hold on items to get them transferred to the downtown branch. I may have nerded out a bit here.
- Helped a woman over the phone who was mistakenly told by a department secretary that she should have access to our online resources when she didn’t. Had to ask my desk partner about this one, who knew all the ins and outs of who would have access and who would not.
- Helped a woman use worldcat to find the correct edition of a book she was looking for, which she then submitted as an ILL order.
- Helped two students look up their textbooks in the catalog. In general, we don’t carry them, but I did find one. I told them to check the public library too. (A side note, I was able to get away with this a lot in library school, but only because the books I needed weren’t your traditional change every two year text books, but rather specific books written once on a topic.)
- I answered a few questions that, looking back, I should have done more explanation of how I did it (go to this page, click here, etc) rather than just handing them the information. Something to work on next time.
- Learned not to schedule a meeting for directly after my reference shift. I was in the middle of helping someone when the shift ended, and was late for the meeting.
All in all, I had a pretty good time, despite being pretty nervous (“what if I don’t know the answer to any of the questions???”). It brought to mind the best of my retail days, when I felt I was helping people out, with the added bonus of not being chastised for not “upselling” a product.