Posted by: paultovell | August 5, 2009

The mobile librarian

Arrived at my new base yesterday where the odds of finding a computer to work on are slimmer than a stick insect on a diet.  They should all arrive next week some time; perhaps they’re in the post or something.  So I did my territorial thing of putting a poster up, cleaned the wall above my desk (don’t ask) and set off again.  Plan B Library is closed on Wednesdays, but I have found a terminal at Plan C, where many librarians appear to have descended like vultures.  All of which leaves me reflecting on how much of my work is computer-based.  And on how computers are remarkably effective at placing the librarian at least one remove from the customer.  We need to sit at them for hours a day answering emails and writing reports.  Even at enquiry desks we need them to find information and we need to have something to blame if the information is unsatisfactory or incomplete.  Dare I say we even hide behind them sometimes too?  I remember once vainly searching all sorts of birds of prey websites for information on “hawking”, only to be told by the customer that she meant trading.  I’m sure I blamed the computer to cover my embarrassment – “yes, unfortunately it takes you automatically to these websites – I’m just making sure there isn’t anything useful here.”  Whatever.  So librarians without computers aren’t just unable to work, they are unable to blame.  We truly are responsible for our own ineptitude or slowness, and we truly are fallible.  Hard to stomach, but perhaps a good lesson to learn.


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