One of the things we’re doing in the class I’m teaching right now for the iSchool at the University of Washington is reconsidering how libraries do Reference work. I asked students to brainstorm about the topic and thought this idea from Lianne Ho was pretty neat. I’d link to her class blog but it is behind UW authentication.
What about the service expectations at places like restaurants? Restaurant patrons don’t just prefer to be approached by the wait staff–they expect it! Especially in more formal establishments, it’s expected that wait staff will monitor patrons to provide immediate or even preemptive service (ex. refilling water glasses before they’re empty).
Some establishments (generally more casual ones) have the equivalent of an attendant call button at tables. Patrons will signal that they need something and (ideally) someone will come by within a minute or two.
I’m intrigued with the idea of using a similar model at the library. What if there was a way for patrons to page the librarian and get near-immediate assistance where they are? Perhaps there could be an icon on the computer desktop, for patrons who need assistance at one of the workstations. There could also be “call” buttons at the end of the stacks.