We are moving towards roving reference at our library. This is a very new concept for us, as we have always been tied to a desk. However, with the introduction of RFID, we have the potential to move out from our desk. The potential is not yet fully realised, so until it is, we will start taking baby steps in this journey.
So what will roving reference look like at our library?
At the moment, it looks like it usually does – we are away from the desk, doing some admin type work, like shelving holds (they are self-serve), find items to fulfill holds or emptying trolleys to the appropriate collection areas. And as we do, people grab us as we go by and ask questions. And whenever we go to do a shelf check or help a user find a particular area in the library, we are always waylaid with further queries.
So what will be different? Hopefully, we will be able to spend more time with these people when they ask questions and not feel the need to complete it and get back to the crush that is our typical desk traffic, as soon as humanly possible. We will be more observant about library users around us and actively seek to help them where they are at – daunting as the prospect might seem.
And we will get our staff trained up a bit more so that its not just the librarians doing this. We will develop scenarios to give confidence to those who don’t like to stray from the desk and we will buddy up with these newly trained staff, to help them ‘get their feet wet’.
But we will do so only where it is not to the detriment of those we serve at our desk. They will remain our first priority, but our customer service will expand to those who don’t approach the desk. Customer service is one of strengths and we plan to capitalise on this opportunity and improve it – whether its deliberately seeking out those to help, or its incidental on our way to doing other things.
What does roving reference look like in your library?