Yearly Archives: 2013

Developing Hybrid Models for Library Customer Service Standards

Author: Cherry-Ann Smart
Special Collections Librarian
University of the West Indies, Mona Campus


Purpose – This paper explores issues surrounding customer service in libraries.  It encourages the development of hybrid models for customer service standards based on institutional and local culture, technology, and the involvement of staff and stakeholders.

Design/methodology/approach – Posits that technology in library operations emphasizes the human element which is important for service delivery and good customer relations.  Suggests if clear parameters about policies are not established and communicated to both parties prior to administration of service polls, library staff may become disenfranchised by negative results.  Further suggests that if this baseline is not first established survey responses may be flawed and caution should be applied when benchmarking.  By reviewing the literature and polling professional and para-professional staff of one academic library in Jamaica, the author recommends the creation of hybrid models of customer service standards, especially for developing countries.

Findings – The paper supports libraries’ development of their own hybrid models to improve the customer service encounter.

Research limitations/implications – The paper demonstrates that imbalance in the manager-patron-staff triage as a result of historical, socio-economical, and cultural factors may be a possible barrier to excellent customer service in academic libraries and needs to be further explored.

Practical implications – The paper provides a practical guide for libraries interested in developing hybrid customer service standards.

Originality/value – This conceptual paper reviews customer service delivery from a developing country viewpoint and deliberates the implications of importing alien practices, while ignoring existing constructive practices which may be integrated to offer more effective service.

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Introducing the editors: Marie Kennedy

Who are you? 

One reason I’m an electronic resources librarian is because e-formats and the role of the  librarian to manage those formats are not yet figured out; there’s no “right” way to do any of this stuff. The non-standardization of this type of job leaves a lot of room for creativity, for partnerships and collaborations, and for invention. It is this entrepreneurial spirit that gets me up in the morning, ready to figure out new ways to engage our patrons with e-content.

Why are you involved in this new journal?

In addition to an MSIS I have an MFA in photography (my CV), and I find a lot of similarities in the processes of librarianship and art-making; there are a few required steps that are followed in a pattern, and there are nods to those who have come before us, but then it’s up to us to design the future of the field. Carving out a space in the literature for sky’s-the-limit thinking  about libraries makes sense to me. 

What would you like to accomplish as an editor? 

I want to shine a spotlight on ideas that dare, that cajole, and that expand our thinking on topics.

The Library as Visual Workplace

Christopher Raab
Archives & Special Collections Librarian
Franklin & Marshall College

Visual solutions offer the simplicity library employees (and patrons) need.

Have you ever worked at the information desk and found yourself answering the same directional question again and again? Or gone to the closet to retrieve a new toner cartridge only to discover the supply exhausted? Have you ever spent twenty minutes looking for an extra book truck, only to find five tucked away in the gift processing area? Well, if you have, chances are you’re not alone. So how do librarians avoid these frustratingly repetitive tasks and breakdowns in communication? The solution is to transform the academic library into a Visual Workplace, where the answers to vital questions and supply chains are literally installed into the work environment, as close to the point of need as possible.

Continue reading The Library as Visual Workplace

Introducing the editors: Barbara Fister

Joe Kraus has started things off with his introductory post. Here’s mine.

Who are you? 

I’m a librarian at a small liberal arts college in Minnesota. I’ve long been interested in all kinds of issues related to how people find and use information to make new knowledge. That has led me to spend a lot of time with college students helping them figure out how to navigate what’s out there and find themselves as authors and thinkers and agents of change. (Sometimes all they want to do is finish a paper on time; I try to help with that, too.) It also has led me to explore how information is used to make sense of the world through fiction; I’ve studied crime fiction and the social nature of reading and have published three mysteries, all of which have something to do with how information (bad information, misinterpreted information, or information uncovered by dogged detective work) plays out fictionally around questions of justice. And it has made me want to be involved in the future of publishing, a future that’s creative and open to new ways of sharing knowledge. A future that isn’t closed and owned by corporate interests or scholarly societies that act like them.

Why are you involved in this new journal?

Several members of the Library Society of the World (you should join! It’s open and creative and fun and free!) started kicking around what we would ideally want to see in a new open access journal, and this is the result. These are some of the smartest, funniest, most creative librarians I know, and that’s saying something. So of course I want to be part of it.

What would you like to accomplish as an editor? 

This journal is new and evolving and we’re still figuring out how we’ll carry out the work, but some of the things we agreed were important are built-in already. It has to be available to anyone who has an Internet connection. Check. It has to disobey rules that made sense when journals were printed on paper but no longer do. We can do that. It has to be hospitable to librarians at all kinds of libraries writing in a variety of modes. Totally. We value peer-reviewed research and want to be a respected outlet for it, but we also like thoughtful articles and opinion pieces that aren’t so formally dressed. Can do. We want our authors to see their work made public without months of delay and we want to let the conversations continue, as they can these days, through comments. Why ever not? We want to see how a journal about creativity can be, itself, creative. So far, so good.

In short, we want to be part of the solution. Maybe you do, too.  We’re open for submissions, and hope you’ll think of us when you have something to say.


photo courtesy of SomeDriftwood