I was just going to shut down this so-called blog, since I definitely failed at trying to blog once a week. (My last post was in January – ouch!)
But something today has made me sad and frightened for today’s college students, and I need to write about it.
My younger sister, a 20-year-old college student, headed into her senior year of school, admitted to me that she has never gone to the library at her university to “actually get a book.” What’s worse is that she is AFRAID to ask the librarian for help, so I have been guiding her through her university library (which I have never been in) through emails and tweets.
Now, she is shy, but what about librarians makes us unapproachable? We are here to help, we WANT to help. That’s why we are librarians. (That’s why I’m a librarian, anyway.)
If college students fear approaching librarians, what can we do? I don’t know that I have the answer. I know there is a lot of talk of “roving librarians” in the stacks, but I don’t think this is really feasible in today’s environment.
At PLA in Philadelphia back in March, I attended as session called “Revitalizing Reference”. One librarian reported that their library made their reference desk more visible – moved it out into the open, removed phone/email/chat duties, and saw a 39% increase in transactions. Wow! Simply by making the librarian seem ready and open for questions, they came. When a library user sees someone sitting behind a desk staring at a computer, they are more reluctant to approach that person. Nobody wants to be a bother.
Here’s the other problem – she has never actually used the library, and she is entering her forth year there. HOW is she writing effective research papers? I don’t even want to think about it.