So, I’m trying to write a strategic plan for the libraries. (Real life and daily work seem to be interfering, but I’m going to get it done.) And today is one of those days when I have two options: Pull my hair out, or turn this experience into fodder for the strategic plan.
My vote, as of right now? We need an info commons that integrates tech support, STAT. Students need Blackboard assistance. They need access to all campus software. They need more hardware. They need tech help. And I’m all they’ve got, here at the Reference Desk in the library.
So far, in my hour and nine minutes on the ref desk, I have:
- Had Meebo bomb out on me repeatedly. Sorry remote users, no help for you today.
- Got a report that one of our iMacs is failing to log in, and was unable to resolve the issue myself. I directed the student to check out a laptop, and apologized that they’re not MacBooks, since he was hoping for MacOS.
- Helped a student troubleshoot “I can’t open this attachment”, which was because it’s a .pages file, which MSOffice cannot, apparently, open.
- Tried to help a student with a Blackboard quiz; failed due to lack of depth of understanding of the nuances of Blackboard.
- Showed a student how to get back to the dual-boot login screen on the iMacs. (FYI; he wanted Mac OS.)
- Helped a student find her professor’s contact information in Blackboard and the campus directory.
- Showed a professor the new location of the videos (we did it over winter break).
- Tried to help a student open her lab project; failed. We do not appear to have that software on the campus lab image.
None of those questions were about the research process or the intellectual work of using the library’s resources or services. All of them were about using our facilities or our campus technology infrastructure or services. All of which I can handle, to a certain extent, but none of which is my area of expertise. Librarians are often jacks-of-all-trades, but that doesn’t mean we automatically have the right training or resources to be everything to everyone, in an environment where “everything” means, more and more, “technology assistance.” We’re doing our best, and it’s holding back the flood, but we could do better. We want to do better. We try to do better. The students deserve better.
So I’m going to go with “fodder for the strategic plan” rather than “pull my hair out”. I do like a challenge.