Sunday, January 23, 2011

Make it Easy for them

There is an interesting article, Don't make it easy for them, set me thinking. Yes, students need to learn library research skills. What about faculty members? My point is make it easy for them. Yes, make it easy for them! We call it support faculty teaching, research, and clinical education.

The library outreach programs have provided lots of opportunities for librarians to connect with academic faculties. Years of liaison experience told me faculty members like helpful, personalized, and convenient library services delivered to their desktops. I found myself really enjoy working with them by providing these services. I questioned myself a while ago, "Am I spoiling them by doing so?" One of my librarian friend said, "No, this is called another level of customer service." So, here they are:

  • Set up automatic email alerts for each faculty on their research topics with My NCBI. This personalized service includes knowing and understanding each faculty member's research interests or topics, constructing a good search for each topic, creating My NCBI account for each faculty, and writing up instructions on how to manage the alerts.
  • Conduct literature searches for faculty members. This involves not only expert search using related databases, but delivering the search results in the format of their preferences. Sometimes it goes further than that such as organizing citations and retrieving full text articles for them.
  • Scan articles from the library's print collection to PDFs and send to them via emails. The challenge is basically time especially when I have a busy schedule and when the faculty are rush to need the articles.
  • Deliver one-on-one library workshop sessions to faculty's offices. This is especially in demand for hands-on workshops. What makes this service welcoming is the focus of individualization. This requires me to get very familiar with the workshop contents and alter the teaching method based on each individual faculty's characteristics and needs.
  • There are some very basic things we, librarians, expect our users to do them themselves while faculty members expect librarians to do those basic things for them. My liaison philosophy is don't ask, just do it. For example, could you get the full text of this article for me (I know we have online access to the article and she can download it from her desktop.); do we have this book in the library ( I know we do. A catalog search will tell her.); I need this article via interlibrary loan, could you request for me? (I know she can do it online by logging onto her library account.); Could you pull these articles for me from the library stack? I will come and pick up after work (I know the library doesn't offer this service. She can come to the library and do it herself.)
Concern and worry was if I got lots of requests, it might be difficult to handle and it would greatly increase my workload. I took it as a challenge. Reference service hasn't change a lot, we just need to do it in different ways: make it easy for them, but might mean make it difficult for us. This brings to the core of my job -- providing excellent customer service!