Serendipity in the library environment?

The browsing experience deserves attention (and future posts here), especially as the way we browse has been changing so rapidly. When was the last time we lost ourselves in dusty stacks, stumbling upon serendipitous information that changed the course of our research or simply added to the awe we feel when in the presence of so much knowledge? This post from ACRLog captures today’s dilemma (about the stacks becoming more of a digital experience for today’s researchers–more convenient, yet less inspiring) very eloquently.

I recently discussed with a friend how the browsing experience changes when a public library changes from a stable collection to a floating collection (stay tuned). Does this increase serendipity or just change the definition of a branch library. I am used to a branch library reflecting the tastes of its particular patron population.

Enabling the Research ‘Flow’ and Serendipity in Today’s Digital Library Environment.


The unsuccessful reference transaction is a teachable moment

What didn’t work the last time a patron walked away unsatisfied? Did you analyze the transaction according to these five facets:  Approachability, Interest, Listening/Inquiring, Searching, and Follow Up?  The RUSA-approved guidelines reflect decades of experience and knowledge passed down through generations of librarians, and they have been adapted for the digital age.  Any one of these facets will affect the outcome, and satisfaction of the patron, although failures on one of these doesn’t mean the patron didn’t get what he or she came for. Standards are something to be striven for, but there are so many unpredictable elements at a public library (especially) that affect these. Giving patrons undivided attention and expressing great interest in what they are saying, while being interrupted by phone calls, other people waiting, patrons calling from across the room from a computer station, and patrons nervous about their parking meters–all these things affect your effectiveness. And, of course, if you look busy, that affects your approachability.