the future of libraries in the digital age
In Part 1, devoted to essential principles of information services (IS), I made an attempt to consider the IS organization taking into account different users’ needs and library resources. Today’s meditation will be devoted to principles, a library should follow. Here are they are:
visuality and obviousness
Strange as it may seem, but all the above mentioned principles are true for education. That is any teacher or tutor should follow them in her/his work. Really, a teacher (librarian) communicates with students (patrons), explains or informs something, ask and answer different questions. In this case the main either librarian’s or teacher’s purpose is to provide some information to students or patrons, help them to get some skills.
The differentiation principle is based on individual psychological features, that distinguish one person from another and are related to successful implementing of this or that activity. With reference to libraries this may mean the following: every patron is unique, all patrons are different! For someone you will have to spell out chapter and verse how to search OPAC, for one patron it will be enough to demonstrate once the foundations of information retrieval; someone get information on the air, for another you’ll have to explain once and again; some patrons prefer to read a printed book, another – its e-version, someone is an IT-guru, someone cannot tell word from excel. A librarian must find out all these little nuances, and suggest the most efficient search strategy. This is where we need the dialogue principle, that implies equality in patron-librarian communication. So the patrons are not only allowed to ask questions, but also to give some advice or to suggest an idea. The librarians may not only answer questions, but to advise a particular information resources, clear up patron’s needs and interests, specify the inquiry, find out whether the recommended information was useful, and so on. Why not to make a compliment or wish good luck at exams. J
So that the patron could find the information himself or to better understand librarian’s explanations, so that a patron has a complete image of search strategies – the design of collections, catalogues, library web-site must be visually and intuitively understandable.
The systematic principle is based on the following. First, all types of IS in a library must constitute a single system of interconnected and interrelated elements. If your library provides ILL, it is great when a link to ILL form is placed in a corporate OPAC, so that a patron could easily get a book from another library. And second, if you are going to introduce a new service, be sure to think everything over and consider all pros and cons. And don’t give up immediately as something goes wrong. Try to organize your services as easy and comfortable to use and don’t leave your patrons all alone in the great ocean of information. If you provide wireless access to the internet for you patrons – there should be a person to help to “tune up” a laptop, if your library subscribes to different databases, there should be a person to help patrons to search information there.
And so on, and so forth... I think each of you can give your own examples.