Roving Reference Librarian

[Thanks to Krafty]
Der „umherwandernde Bibliothekar“ ist wirklich nicht nur eine nette Attitude, sondern auch ein fundamental-wichtiges Konzept, wenn Nutzer nicht mehr in die Bibliothek kommen (müssen). Ich würde es ja gerne auf die Institute und Kliniken ausweiten, wenn ich mehr Zeit oder Personal hätte….
The LibrarianInBlack directed me to Roving Reference Mythbusting where Joan Giannone responds to 8 common myths regarding roving reference. It is interesting to read and for me it kind of jumpstarted my thoughts.

In a galaxy far far away when I was in library school I was the electronic resources assistant at the University of Missouri Ellis Library. Part of my job as the electronic resources assistant was to learn every electronic database and help users search for information. Although we sort of had a desk near the reference desk, it really served as an area to store our bookbag and to tally stats. We were expected to wander through the banks of computers to help patrons with their searches. Essentially we were roving electronic reference assistants. There is definitely and art and science to roving computer reference. You don’t want annoy them but you also want to be approachable. I found that the simple act of greeting them made all the difference in the world. If they entered the computer area or when my shift started, „Hi, I’m Michelle if you need any help or have any questions let me know. I’ll be in the area.“ If they were already on the computer searching away or if they were leaving I would ask them if they were able to find everything they needed. I did not hover. I wandered and while wandering I did other things that were part of my job such as re-stocking paper in printers, straightening the work desks, troubleshooting computers, etc. I rarely sat down. The reason we wandered and rarely sat down? It was discovered that the patrons were more apt to ask questions as you were passing by rather than getting up from their computer and going to a desk. We were more approachable.

Now that I am librarian in a small community hospital library, roving like I did back then wouldn’t work out too well. My library is a good size for a community hospital but, my four year old could throw a baseball the length of it. I think my patrons would get a little creeped out if I just kept wandering in that small space, and I really don’t want to personally test out our psychiatric beds. But I can get out from behind my desk a lot more and create my own modified roving reference.